Even though Stuart Anderson didn’t grow up on a farm, he was always that kid using every square inch of carpet for farming in the living room with his toys. Today the first-generation Nebraska farmer can proudly look across his 300-acre crop ground this growing season and see all that he has accomplished.
“Now that I am in my 4th growing season, being able to look back at where I started and where I am today is pretty cool,” Stuart said.
Stuart and his wife Erin’s story is one of two that debuts today on CarbonTV’s third season, exclusive web-series “Growing Season.” Presented by Chevron Delo, and sponsored by Monstanto Bio-Ag and Red Brand Fencing, ‘Growing Season’ is a one of a kind docu-drama that takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes look at the agriculture community, all that is entangled from planting to harvest, and truly shows farming isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle.
“I think that farming has taught me to be more patient. This is my first growing season as a wife and it’s definitely been different than I expected,” Erin said. “There are plenty of nights that I’ve sat at home alone and just had to remind myself that Stuart is out there doing what he’s passionate about and helping provide for us.”
Celebrating 11 months of marriage today, neither Stuart or Erin came from a farming background, but both weren’t far removed from the business. Erin grew up in the city, but her mom’s side of the family farmed. Her grandpa and his brothers had both a crop and dairy farm and repaired and rebuilt machinery. Two of her uncles currently farm and one is a banker in a small farming community.
“Growing up we would go and visit my grandparents on the farm, but my knowledge of farming and agriculture was limited,” Erin said. “It wasn’t something I was really interested in until I started working for a coop after graduating college.”
It was the opposite for Stuart.
“When I was younger I always wanted to travel out to Big Springs, Nebraska, where I have some relatives that farm and ranch. In high school I started working for Rob Hultquist Farms here in the Minden area,” Stuart said. “While working for Rob, I realized that I wanted to do something ag related. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I would do because I didn’t have a family farm to lean back on.”
Instead, Stuart found a business partner in Rob.
“When I bought my first piece of ground in 2013 I realized that in today’s world, with the high cost of operating, there would be no way a first generation farmer could make it on his own, so I partnered with the Rob Hultquist Farms,” Stuart said. ““In doing so I didn’t have to go out and buy a million dollars’ worth of equipment. I rent the equipment from Rob and it benefits both farms.”
It also gives Rob’s equipment a few more acres to cover in a year and when Stuart buys equipment, it gives his farm another source of income by renting them. The duo also do custom work throughout the year.
His biggest challenge to starting his own operation? Finances, of course.
“In today’s world it doesn’t take long to get to a multi-million dollar operation with the cost of everything,” Stuart said. “To start out with just a few thousand dollars in my savings account, I knew it was going to be a struggle from the beginning.”
It’s a struggle Stuart had to share with Erin prior to getting married.
“We discussed how farming is not a normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job with free weekends. It requires a lot of extra hours throughout the season and at times has to take priority over other things,” Erin said. “We talked about how starting a farming business in this day and age is difficult, but hopefully later in life the rewards will outweigh the risks. We hope that the farm can provide a future for our children.”
In addition to her job off the farm, Erin says her main role on the farm is supporter.
“I try my best to keep the house in order, provide meals, and learn the aspects of a farming business,” Erin said. “I wouldn’t say I’m real handy, but I’ll give it my best shot if he needs help.”
Sometimes it’s not a helping hand that is needed though, but rather just a shoulder to lean on.
“It has taught us to lean on each other even more for support and encouragement,” Stuart said. “There are a lot of times where one of us has had a less than perfect day, but being able to come home and have each other to talk to makes it easier to handle.”
During irrigation and harvest, Stuart and Erin don’t see each other as much. So when we they do get time to spend together, they try to make the most of it.
“We’ve also learned that there has to be a lot of give and take in our relationship when it comes to farming,” Stuart said. “We have to sacrifice time together during the growing season, but then get a chance to be together and do more things in the off season.”
It’s a way of life the Andersons hope more people will understand after seeing their story on “Growing Season.”
“I hope that it gives those that aren’t from a small farming town the chance to see just how much hard work and time goes into growing a crop to help feed the world,” Erin said.
Finally, Stuart hopes the show will inspire others to follow their dreams.
“Faith, determination, and a little hard work will take you a long way. One of the biggest things that I have taken away from starting a farm is that networking is one of the most crucial parts,” Stuart said. “It takes more than yourself to make everything work smoothly.”