A first-generation farmer is living his dream

For farmer Blake Segerholm of Aneta, ND, a goal he has held for more than a decade has finally come to fruition. “I knew I wanted to be a farmer 10 years ago,” he says. “I knew I was going to cultivate. I didn’t know exactly how to go about it. »

Segerholm earned a degree in music education from North Dakota State University in 2012, knowing that teaching would be a career he would enjoy. He was also interested in horses and took courses in equine science in addition to music education classes.

After beginning his teaching career in Hatton, ND, he worked part-time for Jodock Farms near Northwood, ND, where he became even more interested in farming.

“I worked for them full-time for a year and part-time for two years; then my grandmother got a quarter of the land I farmed,” he says. “I was able to use some of their machines while working for them, and I didn’t make a lot of money farming this quarter, but I still came out on top.”

From that first harvest, Segerholm focused on building equity while hauling propane for his father’s business. Along with being a part-time farmer and working for his father, Segerholm also started a horse training business.

“I had found a farm on 80 acres and thought it was perfect, so I moved to Aneta and started my horse training business, raising foals for people,” says- he.

Even with her side jobs, her goal of owning and operating her own farm has always been on her mind. While some first-generation farmers may marry into the land or take over an existing farm from a retiring farmer, Segerholm says he’s been persistent enough to do it his way.

“There are no guarantees with any route you take,” he says. “I think God opened doors, and I was stubborn enough not to give up on that dream.”

He has expanded his farm to about 600 acres of cropland and leases about 100 acres of pasture.

“I had accumulated enough equity and was able to buy equipment. Then I just decided that soybean prices were looking really good and said, ‘You know, let’s grow,’ and last year was my first year running my own farm,” he says. “I ended up making the jump to equipment that I won’t have to repair every day, and the equipment gives me a lot of opportunities when it comes to conventional or no-till tillage.”

While he had farmed for himself and others in previous seasons, the 2022 season was the first growing season that Segerholm farmed his own land full-time. “I actually quit my day job six months ago, so here I am a farmer,” he says.

Plan for the future

During his first season of full-time farming, Segerholm says he remained open to new management practices, as well as working with experts, like his agronomist Dan Moser.

“I hired an agronomist, which I’m very happy about. It has really helped take my farm to the next level, when it comes to making decisions about chemicals and fertilizers,” he says. “Compared to my fields last year when I did it myself, I mean my barley field barely had a weed in it, and everything was really, really clean.”

Currently, he grows wheat, barley and soybeans, but he is always willing to try new things. “Grain farming is where I want to continue growing, and some pasture I hope to use for livestock,” he says.

During the winter off season, he plans to work a bit more to keep busy. “I’ll start horses for people and then go back and teach as a substitute as well,” he says. “There is definitely a need at school, and it will be nice to be able to work all winter.”

With only a year under his belt, Segerholm says he’s excited to spend the rest of his years farming. “It’s just when you love what you’re doing, you know it’s not work,” he says. “I’m just super blessed and pinch myself every day when I wake up.”