When Leon and Nancy Gergen’s pastor, Father Stan Mader, asked them to host this year’s Rural Life Sunday celebration at their Hastings farm, they jumped at the chance.
“It’s a good way to show people just how we rural area people live,” Nancy said. “We kind of have our own little world out here. It’s beautiful.”
Leon’s brother and sister-in-law, Ray and Elaine Gergen, are co-hosting the celebration. The couples, whose houses are separated by a gravel road, work the 700-acre farm together.
The June 26 archdiocesan-sponsored event begins with a 1:30 p.m. Mass at the farm, with Bishop Lee Piché as celebrant.
After Mass, there will be food, family activities, a petting zoo, antique tractors, music and tours of historic St. Mary Church in New Trier.
Free-will donations will be accepted, and golf carts will be available for those who have difficulty walking.
A rural way of life
Leon’s parents acquired the farm in 1936, during the Great Depression.
Over the years, the family has raised dairy cows and beef cattle. Last summer they decided to devote their full attention to their corn and soybean crops.
Most days, the Gergens rise before 6 a.m. to begin the day’s work. During the spring months, they are occupied with planting, spraying and tending the fields. Summer brings a slower pace. Then comes the fall harvest.
“What I like about farming is that you’re not doing the same thing all the time,” Leon said. “I like that variety. And I take a lot of pride in everything we do.”
On a recent Friday, Leon was planning to spray the corn fields to prevent weeds from growing, but it was too windy, so he had to wait until the time was right.
“That’s the way you live when you farm,” Nancy said. “You would love to get up and say, ‘Today I’m going to do this,’ but you have to look first of all at what the weather is like. Maybe you can’t.”
“You do depend on nature,” she added. “Yet you know you’ve got the Lord with you. The good Lord definitely plays a part in our life. He controls everything.”
Gergen Farms is located at 22628 Kirby Ave. S in Hastings. For information, call (651) 437-5546.