Farm influence transcends generations

Thursday, Jan. 23, the sun came out. It was a sight for eyes that were tired of winter and ready for color, for smiles, for “spring” in our steps.

But February was still a month that we celebrated at the Chamber. We have made it a tradition that spans several decades to celebrate agriculture in the month of February. We started on Jan. 29 with the Ag Expo, and the next week our Rooster Booster highlighted innovators and entrepreneurs in our local ag scene. This sector of our community is leading the way around the nation in innovation … and is a bright spot in our regional economy.

Saturday, we ended February with our Farm City Breakfast, a celebration of the interconnective relationship between our urban and rural partners in driving our economic growth and our quality of life.

The passing of a great-uncle has left me with another reminder of my own personal “Farm City” experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Elwood Castlen was born on the family farm and raised to know and understand the value of hard work. He left the farm to fight tyranny in World War II and was a decorated veteran — although no one in the family knew about the honors and recognition he had received until a few short years ago. He came back to the states and went

to Western Kentucky University, where he played basketball for E.A. Diddle. After college, he returned to Owensboro, where he built a very successful business in real estate.

The Uncle Elwood I knew was a constant encourager. He was a champion of education and hard work. And even though his great nieces and nephews number well over 100, he still managed to mentor and encourage. His optimism was infectious. He made you think you could do anything if you worked hard enough, saw the best in others and just kept going. We still have copies of the bits of inspiration that he would drop off at our offices or our back doors.

Generations were born and raised on that one farm and in the house that sat on 144 — including my grandfather and my father who moved to a Stanley farm when he was a child. And although the house and the one built after it are gone, another home stands and the farm is still there, still owned and operated by Castlens. That farm’s influence remains with family across the country, in cities and towns; in business, in politics; in public service and around the supper table. Even though some of us are one generation removed from the farm, it stays with us each day … whether we realize it or not.