The Kann family receives the recognition of the firm of the century ( News Iowa )

FAIRFIELD – The Kann family farm a few miles north of Fairfield was among those honored as the Centennial Farm at the Iowa State Fair this past August.

The farm is owned by John Kann, who grew up on the farm where he still remains today. Kann farmed his 240 acres until 2017, when a 73-year-old cancer diagnosis forced him to turn the operation of the farm into a cash renter.

Kann’s grandfather, Bert Kann, bought land about 3 miles north of Fairfield on Route 1 in 1922, buying it for $200 an acre. Kann said his grandfather took out a $1,000 loan and because of the Great Depression, which was to come seven years later, paying off the money was not easy.

“My grandmother took this farm by the skin of her teeth,” Kann said. “The depression years were hard, and for at least two or three years they did not have a good enough crop to feed the cattle and hogs.”

Kann said his father was born around the same time his grandfather bought the farm, and told him what it was like growing up during the Great Depression. Although Kann’s father was a boy at the time, he was old enough to help with the farm chores, and he told Kann about the terrible chin bugs that destroyed crops in the 1930s.

“Dad said they dug trenches and put creosote in them to try to kill chin bugs,” Kann said. “He told us that sitting at home, twiddling our thumbs wouldn’t do us any good.”

The villa where Kann lives today was built by his father, Albert, in 1948 when Kann was 4 years old. The family destroyed the old house that was there. While the new house was being built, Kann, her sister Dixie and her parents lived in a small temporary house on the farm.

Kann graduated from Fairfield High School in 1963. Being the only son, he decided to work as long as possible on the family farm, and later took it from his father and moved to town.

Kann married Becky Adams, who came from a long line of settlers. For the first 15 years of their marriage, they lived on the family’s farm just north of the village, which place he had to fix with his family. John and Becky had two children, a daughter, Christ, who is now in Detroit, and a son, Daniel, who now lives in Kansas City. For a while, the four of them lived in the village to the north, but Kann said they moved to the main house in the south because it was nicer.

Kann fondly remembers how his wife and mother Maxiene cooked food for the farmers in the fields to sustain them during long days of work. In the 1950s, Kann’s father bought a 100-acre farm next door for $400 an acre.

Like most farmers in the mid-20th century, the Kann family raised livestock such as hogs and cattle, although he said he did not have any animals on his property for several years. He was going strong in the fields since his 70s, but a cancer diagnosis made him step back from farming.

Kann’s last harvest was in 2016, and a drone photographer successfully captured it, so Kann has a photo of himself at that last harvest that now hangs in his dining room. Today, his land is owned by Casey Diehl.

“No one in Jefferson County has a bad word to say about Casey,” Kann said.

Kann said that when Diehl took over the operation of the farm, Kann wanted to help as much as he could, but not with heavy equipment. Instead of working in the field, Kann stalks Diehl instead.

Kann said he doesn’t miss running the farm, but he enjoys helping Casey work on the farm.

“It gives me something to do,” he said. “You will never catch me sitting in this house during the day unless I am sick. I got to do something out of it. “

Kann said he was honored to receive a letter from the Iowa Farm Bureau earlier this year indicating his farm is now a Century Farm. His two sons and their spouses, grandchildren, family and friends joined him to celebrate the occasion at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

“It was pretty nice,” Kann said.

The John Kann family of Fairfield was honored at the Iowa State Fair for having the farm for a century. Acknowledgment is courtesy of the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Department of Agriculture. John Kann is pictured holding the “Century Farm” plaque. Members of his family are pictured, from left, granddaughter Ava Youngberg, son-in-law Scott Youngberg, granddaughter Adelina Youngberg, daughter Christi Kann Youngberg, (John Kann), son Daniel Kann, grandson Lochlan Kann, daughter-in-law Tiffany. Kann, nephew of Evander Kann. Also pictured is Iowa Secretary of Ag Mike Naig, as far as he is concerned. (Photo courtesy of Christi Kann Youngberg)

Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email at [email protected]

John Kann outside his home located about 3 miles north of the city of Fairfield on Highway 1. The home was built in 1948, when Kann was 4 years old, and he lived there most of his life. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

John Kann, a North Fairfield real estate writer, received recognition this year for Firm of the Century. The farm was purchased by Kann’s grandfather in 1922 for $200 an acre. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

The Kann Farm on Highway 1 north of Fairfield has been in the family for 100 years. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

John Kann shows off his collection of miniatures. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

John Kann looks at an aerial photograph of his town that he had taken. This photo shows the farm north of where he now lives, in the house where he and his family lived for 15 years after he and his wife, Becky, got married. (Andy Hallman/The Union)


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