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One Farm, Three Generations: The Family Future-proofing Whitman County Wheat Production

By mayo 16, 2021mayo 30th, 2021Perspectives
Gary Bailey wheat farming

After starting his career at a major farm lending institution, Gary Bailey returned to his family’s farm full-time in 1989, to work with his parents and two brothers. He wanted to be a part of the legacy that his parents started and to give his children the same kind of upbringing that he had.

Today, Gary works the farm’s 1,800 hectares (4,500 acres) alongside his brother wheat productionMark and his niece Erin, the next generation.

The farm is located in St John, Washington, Whitman County and grows Soft White and White Club wheat.

We asked the Baileys what sustainable farming means to them:

Gary Bailey, Second Generation Farmer:

“Whitman County is the richest wheat producing county in the nation. It’s the most productive. It’s got deep, fertile soil and adequate rainfall to produce a great dry land wheat crop. We want to keep it around for the next generation so we’re doing whatever we can to maintain that soil base and in fact, improve it.”

Mark Bailey, Second Generation Farmer

“This is a beautiful region, and we want to protect our farmland

and our heritage. We want to be here forever, that’s what it comes down to. We want to protect everything so we can continue to have the same opportunities we have now.

“With that comes challenges; the challenges of terrain, the challenges of slope. One of the major challenges is protecting our farmland, so we have to change our ways to do a better job and continue to do a better job of keeping our resources for the next generation, and the following one after that.”

Erin Bailey, Third Generation Farmer

“I’m the third generation and I think that it’s really special to go beyond and leave something for the next generation. I think it’s my responsibility to do it sustainably and in a way that means I’ll be able to provide for my kids, or grandkids, or whoever’s kids down the line. I take a lot of pride in the fact that somebody else started it and trusts me, and believes in me, to take it over.”

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