About Steve and Jolene Ward
NOT JUST A PEDAL TRACTOR
At 10 years old I drove my first tractor. It sounds like something out of a country song, but today I get to do it as my career. Farming is more than just a job; it’s our lifestyle. I farm because it’s what I love. As a kid, I loved watching my dad, John, and now I’m a partner with him. The hard work and long hours are worth the joy of producing quality food for families.
IT’S OUR HERITAGE
I grew up on the oldest recorded farm in DeKalb County. Our seventh-generation family farm, Dayton Farms, was founded in 1837. This is where we grow corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and straw on 2,500 acres. Old Elm Farms is our pig farm, which gets its name from the oldest living Elm tree in Illinois. It lived to be 375 years old until it was cut down due to Dutch elm disease.
A NETWORK THAT CARES
We are a part of Illini Farms network – a larger family farm that works with contract growers, like us, to raise pork. We take care of young pigs after they leave a nursery. When the barns are full, we have a total of 3,000 pigs that we raise to market weight (250-300 pounds). Even though we are a contract grower for a national brand, we’re your local farmers. That Farmland® pork in your grocery store? That’s raised by farms like ours.
HAPPY, HEALTHY AND WHOLESOME
A happy pig is a healthy pig. As a social animal, if pigs aren’t coming up to me during daily pen walkthroughs, then they aren’t feeling well. Through continuous education, we keep up on new ideas and technologies that improve the health of our pigs and how we farm. We are working to preserve our farm for future generations while trying to be the best neighbors we can be.