JoAnne Martin said she has heard time and time again that farming and ranching families move to Alaska and feel they can’t continue their passion.
“Hogwash,” she said. “If you are a farmer, you’re a farmer and you take it with you.”
That’s what JoAnne and Carrol Martin did after they met in Alamosa, Colo. in 1961 — they came to Alaska and started the Diamond M Ranch in 1975. This year, for the Martins’ exceptional work on the farm and in the community, state agriculture officials recognized them as the 2012 Farm Family of the Year.
The Martins will be officially recognized at the Alaska State Fair on Aug. 23. The Farm Family of the Year award was established by the Alaska State Fair in 2000.
“‘Infamous’ is the word,” JoAnne joked when asked how it felt to be famous. “It feels awesome.”
According to a press release, the Martins’ four children were heavily involved in 4-H, and now so are some of their 10 grandchildren. JoAnne worked as a Cooperative Extension Service agent for 25 years, and Carrol has been a 4-H member for 10 years and volunteered as a 4-H leader for more than 50 years.
Carrol will be inducted into the national 4-H Hall of Fame in October — the first Alaskan volunteer leader and fourth Alaskan 4-H member to receive such an honor, according to a press release.
JoAnne said the awards were “icing on the cake” for Carrol’s life — he was a rancher and a farmer even before he could walk.
JoAnne said she is often asked if the family ever makes any money doing what they do, but that’s not the point, she said. In the process of farming and ranching for so long, she raised good kids that know how to work and have high work ethic. For that she is proud.
“I wouldn’t have raised my kids any other way,” she said.
Brian Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.