A Harvest Like No Other

Community of farmers rally together to pick 1,000 acres in one day for farmer in need.

It was the first of July, 2021, when area farmer Greg Coleman was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer while undergoing a heart procedure. His cousins, Jim and Gary Coleman, made a promise then that they would pick his corn for him. By the time harvest rolled around, it wasn’t just Jim and Gary who came to help Greg – it was a community of farmers.

Greg, who is 65, farms between Arnold and Merna on what is known as Cliff Table. He got a lot of his corn picked while traveling back and forth between his home and Lincoln for treatments, but there was still 1,000 acres yet to be picked.

Offers of help started pouring in to Jim, who became the organizer of something few have ever witnessed before.

On Tuesday, November 16, with perfect weather for harvesting, 11 combines, 13 grain carts and 44 semis converged at the site. They came from both the Merna and Arnold valley areas – seven trucks came from Arnold. Coming the farthest distance was a farmer from north of Broken Bow towards Sargent. The goal was to pick all 1,000 acres in one day.

“We turned away a lot of re quests for help because it had already been mapped out. There were multiple offers. Farmers from the other side of Berwyn wanted to bring their new $750,000.00 combine and were turned down, but they did bring trucks to help,” said Greg’s son, Chad.

Thomas Livestock Company from Merna and Adams Land & Cattle from Broken Bow provided valuable help with where to take all the corn in the fastest amount of time, allowing only Coleman corn to be taken that day. One lane was made for all of Greg’s corn to weigh and dump, so they didn’t have to wait in line. Thomas alone took just under 80 truckloads and Adams took around 40 loads.

Bruning State Bank out of Broken Bow, which provided food for some 90 people, took on how to feed the massive crew. Off Broadway Apartments, where Greg’s mother resides, furnished cookies, and Dairy Queen furnished Dilly Bars.

The farmers achieved their goal. The harvest started at 8:00 a.m., and was finished by 4:00 p.m. Normally, that number of acres would take weeks to pick.

Greg’s brother, Neil Coleman of Arnold, said, “People stopped picking their own corn just to come and help – on a beautiful day that they could have picked their own. Greg is in for the fight of his life. It’s a great story of people helping people. It is rare in farming where it’s so competitive. There was no competition – everyone was just there to help.”

“When we figured out dad had cancer, from that time on everyone extended help, even doing chores. It was just amazing what people will do to help. I don’t know how many there were. It’s a great community we live in, that’s for sure. Greg is very humbled just to see that kind of a turnout to help. Just really, really humbled,” said Chad.

Article by: Janet Larreau

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