Derek Pine’s story is probably like a lot of the people who live around Martinsville, Illinois.
“I knew from a very young age what I was gonna do,” said Pine, a fourth-generation farmer. “I knew I was gonna farm when I was big enough to follow dad around…when I was big enough to walk.”
Martinsville is home to about 1,100 people, all of whom seemed to be tied to agriculture.
And examples of its rich farming heritage are on display everywhere – from the Ag Fair, which has been a big local attraction since 1946, to the world’s largest horseshoe that is on display at its entrance.
(Note to tourists: the world’s largest pitchfork, at 60-feet long and 1,940 lbs., is located just one town over.)
“Agriculture is huge to the local community. I mean it employs hundreds of people around here with the local co-ops to all the fertilizer plants, grain elevators,” explained Pine, who was prepping a field for planting when we caught up with him. “It’s 90% of the business in this rural community.”
Pine has rented land from Farmland Partners since 2015, and that partnership has helped Pine scale his operation for the next generation. His son is a junior in high school and is eager to follow in dad’s footsteps.
They’re a landowner that wants to continue to improve the farms.
“They’re a landowner that wants to continue to improve the farms. They’re not just there to collect the check,” he explained, noting the company’s willingness to help with tile and drainage work on the land to maximize productivity.
And according to Pine, those kinds of investments don’t go unnoticed in a little town with big ties to agriculture.