Becoming a Master Farmer has always been about more than yield or acres farmed.
The men and women inducted into this honored group have shown a commitment to their hometowns and the industry. Pearl City farmer Ron Bremmer is no different.
In the late 1980s, Ron and wife, Karen, noticed the Pearl City school district's numbers were lagging. After holding a meeting with six other couples, they decided a lack of housing options was holding the district back.
With Ron's help, Karen spearheaded the effort to build more homes in Pearl City. Freeport and its job market are less than 20 minutes away. Karen and Ron were instrumental in constructing a new, 37-home subdivision. In fact, Karen acted as general contractor for eight spec homes.
"We thought a lot of retired farmers would move in to these new houses and leave their older homes for young families who wanted the small town experience without having to give up their job in Freeport," Karen explains. "But, interest rates were so low, the homes filled up with many young families."
The effect on the community was immediate. The school district is now thriving. Plus, the local churches and service groups gained new members. This is just one example of how Ron and Karen Bremmer have built a masterful reputation and farm in their corner of Stephenson County.
Building a family
Last year marked 40 years of marriage for Ron and Karen. For these two, the farm fairytale began in that same little Pearl City school district.
Ron took Karen on their first date when she was 14 years old. They went to the winter formal together. Karen still remembers how Ron got her mother's seal of approval.