By Justen Ollendick, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication Intern: This week we have the great honor of displaying the story of a third-generation farmer, father of two, husband, former Arizona Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Member, current Arizona Farm Bureau member and Chandler Compadres member…did I miss anything? Let me tell you, he didn’t leave anything out, and his words of wisdom speak great lengths!
An interview with Todd Thelander of Thelander Farms, and his daughter Tatum
Part of an ongoing series about Arizona’s farmers and ranchers.
Talk about your farm: Our farm comprises 3 different farms in Maricopa, Stanfield, and our newest farm is in Hidden Valley, consisting of approximately 4,500 acres. In the past we’ve been mostly cotton farmers, however within the past three years we have turned to mostly alfalfa. All our alfalfa is going straight to the local dairy market.
THE THELANDER FAMILY (L to R): Jensen, Tatum,
What changes have you seen in your lifetime as it relates to farming and/or ranching?First and foremost, I have noticed an extreme price change of almost everything needed to farm. For example, fuel, fertilizer, equipment, and labor. I have also noticed how important it is to understand technology while farming. We used to list up our rows with row markers, now we use a GPS system in a tractor and it drives itself. In the cotton industry, we used to haul the cotton to the gin in cotton trailers, and then we packed them in modules, now there are cotton pickers that convert them to round bales.
Why did you choose to go into agriculture? Farming has been my love since I was a young man. I love planting a seed and seeing the earth, with a little bit of help, produce a wonderful plant that we can use to do so many things.
What generation of farming/ranching are you? I am the third generation in Arizona. My grandfather came to Arizona from Missouri where his father farmed and ran cattle, but was killed by a bull. He moved to Arizona and began working
Will anyone in your family...younger generation...pursue farming and/or ranching? My son, Jensen (18) is looking to pursue farming. He is planning on attending the University of Arizona’s School of Agriculture. Both my kids work on the farm during the summer. My daughter, Tatum (19) drives tractors, and my son picks petioles for some neighboring farmers and me. Tatum is also attending U of
Would you ever consider growing an emerging crop or changing your farm or ranch model? Yes, we love trying new things to keep up with the changes in our industry. About 10 years ago we converted to subsurface drip irrigation. Recently, we have tied in with a company called Yulex, growing guayule used as hypoallergenic, natural latex. About twenty years ago, we grew sesame seed,
What are your community activities? Why are you involved? I was a part of Arizona Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Program about 10-15 years ago to learn more about agriculture and financing. I am a member of the Chandler Compadres for 20+ years, helping give back the community and help better the youth.
My wife, Pam, has been involved in Gilbert Days for the last 20 years including being Gilbert Days Rodeo royalty chairman, herself a Gilbert Days Rodeo Queen. Currently, she is helping with Arizona National Livestock Show’s new event they’re calling Farm to Fork. She also is involved in Chandler Service Club, having started their children’s Weekender Program for kids not eating on weekends. My wife always says, “I love supporting the western way of life from farming to ranching to the entertainment of rodeo.”
I like that my wife and myself are so involved in the community. We want to make a difference. We’re grateful for the life we lead.
What is one fact/experience/achievement no one knows about you? My proudest achievement in agriculture is when I was able to grow a couple of fields of cotton that
My wife was Gilbert Days Rodeo Queen in 1987.
MEET SUSTAINABILITY: Three generations of
What do you think you do really well? Explain. The one thing I pride myself on is being able to grow cotton pretty well, while still loving my job. It has its moments of difficulty, but I always come back loving and wanting more. I also have a hobby of hunting. I like to think I’m pretty good at it, but the real fact is that it’s my passion and that’s what helps keep me sane.
Why are you a farm bureau member? Farm Bureau fights for Arizona Agriculture. They fight for our property rights, our water rights, and helping move agriculture forward. It means so much to me that agriculture is around for the generations to follow and Farm Bureau is assisting the farmers and ranchers in keeping agriculture around, and a thriving industry.
How will the next generation of farmers have to operate? The next generation of
Intern’s Note: I must give credit where credit is due. After making the initial contact with Todd, it was