Brothers question farmland’s future
At the Forge farm north of Leavenworth, summer rains send water, not soil, dashing into streams.
This is because of Bob Forge and his brother, Tim Forge, say they try to take care of the soil. After all, much of the hilly land they farm has been in their family for more than 100 years.
The Forges own 276 acres north of Leavenworth. That includes 80 acres of pasture, 130 acres of cropland, 20 acres of forested ground, along with other land and a farmstead.
Taking time on a winter morning to visit, Bob Forge stands near a woodburning stove in his shop. He talks about the land south of Kickapoo.
"It's good fertile soil," he said. "It always has been good throughout this whole valley to Kickapoo and over to Cody Hill."
But with the slopes, it wouldn't stay that way forever.
"This whole farm was washing away," Forge said.
To stop the erosion, in the early 1980s, the men installed waterways on 6.5 acres. In 1991, they started building terraces, finishing in 2000.
Today, they have installed 1,660 linear feet of diversion terraces, 1,121 linear feet of steepback terraces, 4,431 linear feet of gradient terraces and 1,761 linear feet of underground outlet terraces. The Forges also have six acres of grassed waterways and three ponds. They farm on the contour.
"So, when it comes to conservation practices, they've got a good mixture," said Sy Nyhart, Leavenworth County extension agent.
Even as he plans to make more conservation changes in the future, Forge says he sometimes wonders how long the land land his family has farmed for the last 100 years will continue to be used for agricultural purposes.
Forge sees the price of land continuing its upward climb, sees new houses dotting across the rolling terrain and sees cropland being swallowed up by developers.
"I would guess that in less than 50 years, this will all be houses out here," he said.