OWNER SPOTLIGHT: Paula & Tom Peterson

Aurora Cooperative 3 weeks ago

Pictured above: Peterson’s and their help stop for a quick harvest meal together.

PAULA PETERSON and her husband, THOMAS, are new to Aurora Cooperative but are not new to farming. They both are 4th and 5th generation Nebraska farmers who always knew farming was the way of life for them. Paula and Tom have been farming for over 34 years, running a row-crop and cow-calf operations just outside of Waverly, Nebraska. They run their farm with two of their closest friends, whom Tom grew up with through FFA. They currently have three generations working on the operation.

Paula lovingly refers to herself as the Chief Chef and gopher of the operation, but she is so much more. Paula manages all the financials and paperwork for all three groups within their operation, while preparing lots of meals, running for parts, and the occasional running of the auger wagon.

“I try to keep everyone well-fed so that I can stay out of the wagon,” Paula said. “I much prefer calving season. When we get the baby calves on the ground that is my harvest! We do a little artificial insemination here and there and it is always a little bit of a surprise and so amazing. I live for March.”

Paula is also a huge Ag advocate. She works closely with the Farm Bureau organization, organizing class visits to their farm as well as leading an Ag Action group consisting of 10 individuals who visit different schools reading “agriculturally correct” books to the students. Furthermore, she recently completed the Nebraska LEAD program this January where she was able to visit Brazil and Costa Rica.

“As Nebraska farmers, we need to look at ways to diversify what we are doing and be ready for some new opportunities that are out there,” she said. “If we don’t take advantage of these, others, like Brazil, will.”

Paula also manages the Peterson Farm Facebook page with followers from 22 classrooms and seven different countries.

“I believe it is important for people to put a face to farmers,” she added. “We are trying to make a living just like they are, but we are in fields instead of factories. I want them to gain a deeper understanding of what we are all about. Farmers are wonderful stewards of the land, and we have adapted as science says we need to and have been given the opportunities to adapt, through smart youth who are able to make it happen.”

Luckily for the Peterson’s their youngest daughter and their 13-year-old grandson want to come home and farm for a living. They will need to find ways to make farming available for the next generation on their farm.

“We need to continue to push ourselves toward alternative ways to diversify our operations,” she added. “What that will look like we don’t know, but there are opportunities in hemp or additional alternative crops. We are keeping our eyes open to what is coming and seeing where that could fit in with what we are doing and are aiming to position ourselves in a way that we can make a left turn if we have to.”

The Peterson’s as new patrons, are excited to be doing business with Aurora Cooperative. Paula said truthfully, the good bids were the deciding factor in switching their business.

“Right now, farming is not a business of dollars, but cents,” she explained. “You have to look where every penny is going to go and ultimately go where you can find the best bang for your buck.”

For the Peterson’s farming is not only their career, or their livelihood, it is their way of life.

“We have been extremely fortunate to be able to work with our family and friends every day,” Paula said. “A lot of people, as they become empty nesters, they lose that daily connection with their kids. Thankfully, the farm has allowed us to remain close. At the end of the day, we want to be there for our neighbors. We want to be those people you can always count on. Faith drives what we do here every day. We love doing what we do. Raising food to feed people, to feed animals as well as being part of taking care of the world.”