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Oakland's last farmers


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The farm now has over 1,000 acres of corn, soybean, wheat, as well as about 75 acres of specialty crops, including several types of fruits and vegetables that are sold at farm stands. Ruggles farm also sells mulch and landscaping materials. Expanding the farm, he said, was a unique opportunity for the area, which was made available in part due to the recession and economic downturn.

"Most of the land here is spoken for, but there was a good amount of vacant land that was sitting, and the recession kind of helped with that, so it was available to us," he said.

Ruggles is also a bit unique, as he is one of the younger farmers to own large acreage in the county.

"There's not too many (young farmers)," he said. "It's a hard way of life, or a lot harder than a lot of other options. You have to love it, or have an advantage to stay in it. It's rare that (a farm) is handed down, and they stay in it. And it's almost impossible to get into it from scratch. The majority of farmers are up in age."

Back on the dairy farm, Clark Cook echoed Ruggle's sentiment.

"I'm 54 years old, but I also have a lot of miles on me," Cook said, who has two children in college and one in high school. "I don't know if anyone will come back and take over the farm. We are always looking for young people that want to work in livestock to come and partner with us here. Right now, (my children) all have different interests. We are going to go as long as we can, and as hard as we can until we see what's going on."

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Tags: LONGFORM

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