2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Lifetime Achievement

Markham’s farming heritage keeps growing 2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Lifetime Achievement

Ask Bill Markham what he does every day, and he has his answer ready: “I work the sacred soil with my hands, my heart, my head and my soul.”

Bill maintains the family tradition of working the soil at M&M Farms, started in 1906 with a crop of sugar beets grown and harvested by his grandfather in on a farm in Loveland. Today the family, including daughter Jennifer Schlagel and son Brett Markham, tends 1,300 acres west of Berthoud. Brett and his family live on the farm in the same house that Bill and his own father lived in. Over the years, they’ve grown sugar beets, corn, cattle and barley. For about 60 years, M&M Farms has been providing Miller Coors with beer-brewing barley, a partnership that makes Bill Markham especially proud.

In February, Markham was inducted into the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame. The nod to his accomplishments in the agribusiness industry is well deserved. Having served for years on the Colorado FFA Foundation committee that selected nominees, Markham always believed that being inducted into the Hall of Fame was the greatest honor a Colorado farmer could achieve, and it was his dream to be included in this very notable group. This year, the dream came true.

Not only has his family been feeding the world —Markham notes that 2 percent of the American population are farmers and they feed 168 people each, every day — Bill has worked tirelessly to create and nurture a new generation of farmers. The Markhams always have been involved in 4-H and the Future Farmers of America. For more than 40 years, there has been no FFA chapter in the Loveland/Berthoud area. Markham and a small group of like-minded farmers worked with the Thompson School District and superintendent Stan Scheer to re-establish the organization in the district.

“We have over 100 students in the program now,” said Markham, proudly. “Farming is our next generation, and too many kids living in cities don’t know where their food comes from. Being involved in 4H and FFA is a golden opportunity for them to see how their food is raised and actually put on the shelf.”

What advice does Markham have for people aspiring to make their livelihoods from the soil?

“It takes a lot of pride to get into agriculture,” he said. “When you plant that seed, if it doesn’t rain the see is not going to come up. And if we don’t have water in the mountains, we’re not going to be able to irrigate the crop. You have to have faith that agriculture will survive or you’d better not be here.”

It’s a tough life. Most farmers work 365 days a year and can’t control outside influences such as weather or the commodities market that factor into their success. But that doesn’t deter Markham and his family from continuing to till the soil.

“We’ll be here,” he said of the future of M&M Farms. “My wife and I have been farming for 48 years. We don’t plan on quitting. We don’t plan on retiring. We love what we do.”

Click here to read about all 2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur honorees.

Ask Bill Markham what he does every day, and he has his answer ready: “I work the sacred soil with my hands, my heart, my head and my soul.”

Bill maintains the family tradition of working the soil at M&M Farms, started in 1906 with a crop of sugar beets grown and harvested by his grandfather in on a farm in Loveland. Today the family, including daughter Jennifer Schlagel and son Brett Markham, tends 1,300 acres west of Berthoud. Brett and his family live on the farm in the same house that Bill and his own father lived in. Over the years, they’ve grown sugar beets, corn, cattle and barley. For about 60 years, M&M Farms has been providing Miller Coors with beer-brewing barley, a partnership that makes Bill Markham especially proud.

In February, Markham was inducted into the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame. The nod to his accomplishments in the agribusiness industry is well deserved. Having served for years on the Colorado FFA Foundation committee that selected nominees, Markham always believed that being inducted into the Hall of Fame was the greatest honor a Colorado farmer could achieve, and it was his dream to be included in this very notable group. This year, the dream came true.

Not only has his family been feeding the world —Markham notes…