Every year the Farm Forum presents the Farm Family of the Year award at the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Appreciation Banquet. The purpose of the award is to recognize a family who best represents farming and ranching and the spirit of agriculture in northeastern South Dakota. To be eligible, the recipients must be actively engaged in farming or ranching, with the majority of income derived from production agriculture.
Our 2017 Farm Family of the Year is the Kerry and Mara Hart family from Frederick.
The Harts began their farming operation in the 1950s as a farming and ranching operation named Hart Farms. The majority of the land was owned and operated by Kerry’s father, who farmed through the Dirty 30s. There were seven children in the family, and two of the boys stayed to help at the farm, including Kerry. The Harts had their first bull sale in 1974, selling registered Black Angus and Simmental bulls. After Kerry’s father had a life-threatening stroke, Kerry and his brother took over the farm, raising wheat, beans, alfalfa, oats and corn. They also continued ranching, taking cattle to shows all over the U.S., including the Denver Stock Show, where they earned many awards.
Kerry, along with his wife Mara, have kept the farm alive and have the honor of working with the third generation — their two sons, Justin and Travis. Although rheumatoid arthritis limits what Kerry can do, he is as active as possible to keep the boys in line. Today, they farm oats, alfalfa, soybeans and corn along with raising an incredible herd of Black Simmental cattle. Their operation’s name is now Hart Simmentals, and 2017 marking their 42nd annual bull sale. In addition, the 4th generation Hart boy was welcomed into the family last year.
The Hart family loves to be involved in the community, attending the premium sale at the Brown County Fair each year and purchasing a premium to help out a 4-Her. In addition, Travis is an active member of the Frederick Volunteer Firefighters and First Responders. The family also supports Frederick Forward and the local chapter of the Pink Ladies cancer group.