Idaho family recognized for nearly 125 years of farming

Garrett Cabeza
Moscow-Pullman Daily News
In this Thursday, April 19, 2018 photo, Eric Odberg seeds a field on his farm near Genesee, Idaho. He is the fourth generation to work the ground on the property, which just received a century farm designation.

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Eric Odberg's great-grandfather, Matthias Odberg, purchased a 160-acre plot of farmland eight miles east of Genesee in 1894; nearly 125 years later, Eric, 48, continues the family farming tradition on 2,220 acres.

Eric said farming needs to be in a person's blood and he or she needs to love it in order to be successful.

It's hard work, but it's definitely rewarding," he said.

The Idaho State Historical Society and the Idaho Department of Agriculture presented the Odberg family with the prestigious Century Farm Award in February for owning and operating their farm for more than 100 years.

More than 400 Idaho farms and ranches have received the award.

In this Thursday, April 19, 2018 photo, Eric Odberg, lower left, is seen with his family on their farm near Genesee, Idaho. Odberg is the fourth generation to work the ground on the property, which just received a century farm designation. (Kai Eiselein/The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)

Eric said his family primarily produced wheat and raised cattle at the start of the Odberg farming era. He said his father grew crops and raised cattle for quite a while but then decided to get out of the cow business in the 1960s. Now, Eric said he grows wheat, barley, garbanzo beans and canola.

He said he decided to take over the family farm since he was his parents' only son. Plus, he said his football coach and uncle told him he would be "stupid" if he did not return to the farm, so he took their advice. While he thought about entering the military, Eric said "it seemed like a no-brainer to come back and farm."

He said his wife, Malia, handles the financial aspects of the farm, and their three sons, Ethan, 18, Evan, 15, and Nick, 11, help their dad on the farm during the summer.

Eric said he hopes one of his sons takes over the farm and continues the long family tradition. He said he is proud he and the previous three generations of the Odberg family have kept the farm alive all these years.

"Not many businesses can say they have operated for 125 years," Eric said. "I mean, there's a few out there, but the whole longevity thing is what I'm most proud of."

Eric applied for the Century Farm Award, which came in the form of a certificate and a sign that award recipients can post at their farm or ranch.

He said his mother, Patricia Odberg, kept the property deeds to prove Eric's great grandfather purchased the land in the late 19th century. Eric said there needed to be proof the farm had been owned and operated by the Odberg family for at least 100 years to receive the award. He said the important documentation was discovered when he helped move his mother's belongings.

Eric said now the certificate is in his office and the sign is in his shop. He said it would be nice to hang the sign on the barn outside, but he does not want it to get worn and faded by the elements.

Although Eric farms outside Genesee, he and his family have lived in Moscow the past 15 years.