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A century of farming

H&N photo by Jill Aho - Carleton Farms turned 100 this year and was honored by the Oregon Department of Agriculture as a Century Farm. From left, Jim, Dick and Greg Carleton run the operation outside of Merrill. Carleton Farms honored for its 100th year

By JILL AHO H&N Staff Writer December 3, 2009

One or more Carleton has been working the same land outside Merrill for the past 100 years.

Carleton Farms, now operated by Jim, Greg and Dick Carleton, was honored this year by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and awarded a Century Farm and Ranch designation. The family partnership owns about 650 acres, but grows potatoes, alfalfa and grain and raises livestock on 2,500 acres, Jim Carleton said.

Shared responsibility

Jim and his cousin Greg share much of the responsibilities of operating the farm. Dick, Jim’s father, said he is proud the family’s farming tradition lives on.

“It’s nice to see them stay in the business,” Dick Carleton, 65, said. “I guess every father wants their kids to follow in their footsteps.”

Raising children

Jim Carleton said nothing beats working for himself, and there’s no better place to raise children than on a farm. Jim Carleton, and his wife, Heather, have four children in their blended family: Kyle, 15; Cody, 14,; Madison, 11, and Noel, 11.

Greg Carleton, and his wife, Wendi, have three children: Andrew, 19; Rylee, 16; and Logan, 13. Both men said they think it’s possible one or more of their children will choose the farm life for themselves.

“It just gets in your blood as a kid,” Jim Carleton, 41, said.

Each Carleton said he grew his first crop at the age of 15.

“We were working as farm hands when we were old enough to drive a tractor,” Greg Carleton, 46, said.

In 1994, Jim and Greg Carleton bought out Dick Carleton’s former partner, and Greg’s father, Sam. Dick said the progression from his father, Alfred, to him wasn’t as formal and felt natural.

“It got to the point where I was running the farm,” Dick Carleton said. “We just did it.”

Running the farm

Now, Jim Carleton spends much of his time inside the farm office running the business side of the operation. Greg Carleton works the production end. Both men said their wives serve in a supporting role when it comes to the farming life.

“(Wendi) has an off-farm career,” Greg Carleton said.

Dick said Helen Carleton, his mother, was able to accept the Century Farm designation before she died and was particularly proud of the award.

“It’s quite an accomplishment to see a farm stay in an immediate family that many years,” Dick Carleton said. “There’s not many around.”

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