Wheat Growers honors past, future

Farm Forum

Wheat Growers has been successful throughout the years because past generations have always looked ahead to the needs of next generation, said CEO Dale Locken.

So on its 90th anniversary, Wheat Growers decided to honor the legacy of past generations who have helped shape Wheat Growers into the institution it is today with a celebration, he said.

More than 600 people gathered to celebrate on the evening of June 28 at Wheat Growers’ headquarters in Aberdeen.

The event featured plenty of attractions for all ages, including a pig roast, live music by Mogen’s Heroes and an antique car and tractor show. The main event, however, was the unveiling of a sculpture by Ben Victor that paid homage to the Wheat Growers tradition.

The sculpture, entitled “Generations,” depicts a older farmer with a sun-wrinkled face, bib overalls and a hat, handing a head of wheat to a younger farmer wearing a Wheat Growers cap, who is accompanied by his wife and young child.

Victor said the sculpture was designed to capture the legacy of the farm family that is representative of Wheat Growers and its history.

Based on the audience reaction, it appeared he was successful. Minutes after it was unveiled, a crowd of people gathered around the sculpture to admire its intricate detail.

“It’s quite remarkable,” said Joyce Whitney of Aberdeen. “The old farmer reminds me of my dad, right down to his bib overalls and the hat.”

Current and former board members, managers and general managers came together to celebrate how far Wheat Growers has come in 90 years.

Wheat Growers is described as an innovative grain and agronomy cooperative with more than 5,400 active member-owners in eastern North Dakota and South Dakota. Despite the name, members grow more corn and soybeans than they do wheat.

Among those in attendance was former Wheat Grower CEO Warren Grebner, who started in 1964 and served for 22 years.

The 92-year-old Webster native appeared to blend in with the crowd, but after he spoke about his experience as CEO and how Wheat Growers has grown with the times, several people stopped by to shake his hand and comment on his tenure.

“It’s quite a thing you’ve built here,” one admirer said.

Grebner said that some of the most dramatic changes that he and Wheat Growers had to adapt to was the explosion of new farming methods and technology, which was almost beyond comprehension. He was happy to see Wheat Growers reach its 90th anniversary and he hopes he can be on hand for its 100th.

“Ninety years can go by pretty fast,” he said. “I can attest to that.”

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