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Geigers Named Farm Family of Year

by Marlys Weaver-Stoesz

Published: Friday, August 24, 2018

Farming has been a generational enterprise for the Geiger family of Syracuse. Rob Geiger credits his parents, stepparents and grandparents for helping him get started, while his wife and children encourage its continuation. The whole family's involvement, both in the farm and in their community, helped earn them the title of Elkhart County Agricultural Society's 2018 Farm Family of the Year.

Kate Rink, the chairperson of the award selection committee, explained the three points the group looks at to determine who receives the award. Farming must be the family's primary income source, the family must use modern farming practices and they must be engaged in their community, she said.

Rob and Nicole Geiger said they were moved to be selected.

"To be considered worthy of something like that is an honor. It's a compliment," Rob Geiger said. "The relationships I have with a lot of those people, it's really good to know they think that highly of me as well."

Geiger began farming in 1999, after graduating from Taylor University with a business administration degree. He used his father Rob Geiger's farm equipment to work land he rented from his mother, Cynthia Pergrem, while also working off the farm at Chore Time Brock and Wells Fargo. He began farming full-time in 2007. Now, he and his family farm about 1,300 acres in corn, soybeans and seed corn, and he does custom work for area farmers on another 1,000-or-so acres.

The family of five lives on the homestead in Syracuse where Geiger's grandparents, Eugene and Betty Moser, lived and raised Geiger's mother. The Mosers were also integral in helping Geiger start farming, he said.

"It's a good opportunity to continue a legacy that my family has put together," he said. "On my mom's side, I'm the sixth generation to farm. I look at that as an honor to be able to continue that.

Nicole Geiger said that her husband oversees the farm, but that she and their three kids, Delana, 13, Bryce, 11, and Brooks, 8, all support and contribute as well.

"There's always something to do on the farm, whether it's pick up rocks or pull weeds," said Nicole. "There's just more to maintain and I think when they're involved with that, they feel like they're a part of it."

The Geigers' youngest, Brooks, has especially shown an interest in farmwork. To explore that interest, the Geigers gave Brooks his own 15 acres to farm this year.

"We sit down after we do a field operation and we go through what it costs and what it looks like," Rob said. "He drove the sprayer on those acres and planted the beans on those acres. It's been fun for him to be able to experience that."

"I'm hoping it's a good teaching tool to see what all is involved in it too, besides just sitting in a tractor and driving through the field," he added.

All three children are also active with sports through Fairfield Community Schools, and the family is very involved at Nappanee Missionary Church, where Rob is on the board and Nicole Geiger helps with children's ministries. Nicole also volunteers at Benton Elementary, where Brooks and Bryce attend school, and with Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse International Relief, along with working part-time as a nurse at Milford Family Medicine.

The Elkhart County Agricultural Society will honor the Geiger family at its upcoming banquet. The Geigers said they were grateful and encouraged by the distinction.

"If you see that other people see you've done something good," Nicole Geiger said, "it keeps you motivated to keep it going and make the farm nice and take care of what God's given us. We feel very blessed."

The Elkhart County Agricultural Society Banquet is at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 28 at the Elkhart County Community Center on the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, in Goshen. Tickets are available to purchase in advance for $15 per person by calling the Purdue Extension office at 574-533/0554 or 574/825-5444.

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