GREENFIELD — While their son-in-law was working hard in the fields, Renee Lantz-Corwin and husband Marlon Corwin enjoyed the air-conditioning indoors on a recent afternoon at the Lantz-Corwin family farm.
Surrounded by seven generations of family photos, some dating back to the mid-1800s, the couple, now in their late 50s, reflected on the many years of sacrifice, hard work and determination needed to keep the longtime family business running — an effort recently honored with a Hoosier Homestead award.
The farm, located in the 3200 block of West County Road 400S, has been home to wheat, corn, soybeans, pigs and more over the years. Their work, and those of generations past, was applauded during a celebration of the Year of the Farmer at the Indiana State Fair.
Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney presented more than 60 families with a homestead award, which recognizes their commitment to the state’s agriculture heritage.
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The Lantz-Corwin Farm is about 167 years old and earned the Sesquicentennial Award given to farms that have remained operated by one family for at least 150 years.
Renee Lantz-Corwin said her family’s dedication to keeping the farm operational hasn’t always been easy.
Her brother, who had planned to take over the family farm in the 1970s, was killed in a car crash shortly before graduating from college, leaving the responsibility to Lantz-Corwin, who was a high school student at the time.
She realized if she was going to maintain the operation, she was going to need help.
She found it in her husband, Corwin, who joined the Lantz family in the fields after they married. Now, as the two near their 40th wedding anniversary, they are proud to stand behind the the family business.
“It’s been kind of hard in many ways,” Lantz-Corwin said. “But, it’s always been our bread and butter, so that is where our time and money has gone to.”
To be named a Hoosier Homestead, farms must be owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years and consist of more than 20 acres or produce more than $1,000 of agricultural products per year.
Corwin said earning the distinction is an honor for the family.
“It’s been something special,” he said.
It was Lantz-Corwin’s great-great-great-grandfather who started the family farm when he settled in the area after moving from Germany to the United States in the 1840s.
Now Lantz-Corwin’s daughter, Cristy, and her husband, Pete Howard, live on the farm, making them the seventh generation to help harvest the fields.
Howard and Corwin tend to the 280 acres of land, which is only one part of the family business that spans three counties. They also harvest land in Rush and Shelby counties, giving them several thousand acres of land to look after.
The ceremony at the state fair made Corwin realize farming is a lifelong family business, with one member after another taking care of the land.
“I would say almost every farm that was recognized, their whole family participated,” Marlon said. “It wasn’t just the parents — it’s the children and the great-grandchildren.”
The family has taken the time to find all the distant family members who also farm in the area. More than 41 families farming near the Lantz-Corwin farm are somehow related to Lantz-Corwin and her ancestors.
“It’s amazing,” she said.
While Lantz-Corwin and her husband now live off the family farm, they plan to place the Sesquicentennial Award on the farm for everyone to see.