Editor’s Note: The Michigan Farm News will publish subsequent articles on the five farming families who will be honored Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Michigan Farmers’ Hall of Farm ceremony.
Inductees of the 2019 Michigan Farmers’ Hall of Fame will be honored at Marshall’s Calhoun County Fairgrounds 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14.
This year, five families will receive this high honor among their peers: Elgin and Joanne Darling of Willis in Monroe County; Dale and Sara Stuby of Centreville in St. Joseph County; Jan and Nellie Vosburg of Climax in Kalamazoo County; Norman "Norm" Veliquette of Elk Rapids in Antrim County; and Wayne H. Wood of Marlette in Sanilac County.
To be considered as an inductee, the individual must farm for at least 20 years, be at least 60 years old, be actively involved in his or her respective community and be someone who has contributed to the advancement of agriculture.
The general public is invited to attend the special ceremony to celebrate the vital importance of agriculture. It’s also an opportunity for the public to acknowledge and honor these five outstanding and hard-working farmers and their families.
With 75 years of active farming, Elgin and his wife, Joanne, currently own 1,027 acres and rent 600 acres.
Darling Farms started in 1833 when 60 acres were purchased from the U.S. government with a land deed signed by President Andrew Jackson. The main crops are corn, soybeans and wheat. They also continue to bale and sell large amounts of straw to sell locally and seed corn, beans, farming fertilizer, chemicals, custom plants and harvests.
From 1958 to 1974, Darling Farms entered in a partnership with Elgin's parents, Gilbert and Iown Darling. In 1979, their son, Douglass Darling, was added as a partner — a partnership that’s still operating today.
Doug's son, Dayton, currently works the farm with his father and grandfather. He is the sixth-generation of Darlings to farm the land. Elgin retired from active farming in 2017, but he and Joanne continue to remain active in the family business.
Elgin’s involved with many organizations, including the U. S. Grain Council, the National Corn Growers, Michigan Tractor Pullers, Monroe County Farm Bureau, Michigan Farm Bureau, Soybean Growers, Wheat Growers and the 2-Cycle Tractor Club. He received the FFA State Farmer and the American Farmer Awards. Joanne’s been involved with the Michigan Farm Bureau, the Monroe County Farm Bureau Women's Committee (serving as president for 10 years), the State Agri-Pak Committee and the Michigan Corn Growers.
Over the years, Darling Farms hosted numerous governmental officials, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture and tour groups from China and Russia.
Elgin and Joanne have always found time to be active in their community of Willis, Mich., and their local church as members of the Marble Memorial United Methodist Church in Milan. Both have held several political offices and served in several capacities in dairy and sewing clubs of 4-H.
The couple met through 4-H and just celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary in January.