With the rapid development of the county in the last 20 years or so, the acreage devoted to farming has dwindled dramatically. The 2002 census reported that there are 337 farms in Lake County, totalling about 38,860 acres. However, most of those farms are not owned by the farmer. Instead, farmers lease land from landowners throughout the county to get enough acreage to make a living off it.
There are a few exceptions where families still work their own land, as I discovered on the Liberty Prairie Conservancy's "Secret Gems -- The Farms of Lake County" tour this past weekend.
The Lodesky family has farmed their property for 165 years! In 1843, Franciszek Wlodecki (later the name was changed to Lodesky), settled in Lake County. He had been exiled from Poland following the "November Uprising" of 1830. He arrived in the United States in 1834, married Irish immigrant, Ellen O'Sullivan, and came to Lake County looking for land.
Sixth generation farmer, Joe Lodesky, (pictured at right foreground) led the tour of his family's farm. When asked about the future of farming in Lake County, Joe said that this was the first tour of the farm in 50 years. Decades ago, the local high school had an agriculture program that brought students out for tours. So, from Joe's point of view, hosting the Conservancy's tour was a good sign that people are interested again, and may be getting back to the land.