Farming and 4-H are Plagge Family Traditions

Farming is a family tradition for John Plagge of Latimer, Iowa.  This fourth-generation Franklin County farmer feels fortunate to live in his childhood home, just 2.5 miles down the road from where the land homesteaded by his great grandfather Fred Plagge.

It comes as no surprise to those who know him best that John would find his way home to rural Iowa and to farming.  He was an active 4-H member from the time he was 9 years old and showed pigs at the county fair.  His FFA supervised agricultural experience (SAE) while in high school involved helping his neighbor, who was a fellow pork producer and grain farmer.

After graduating from CAL (Coulter-Alexander-Latimer) Community in 1991, John earned a bachelor’s degree in Ag Business from Iowa State University.  He then accepted a full-time position in retail sales with a co-op in Thornton before transferring to FC Co-op in Latimer. Meanwhile, his wife, Anne, managed the Charlie Brown Daycare while the couple and their children lived in Clear Lake.

In 2002, John and Anne moved their family to the home place near Latimer.  John’s dad, Marvin Plagge, retired that year, providing John will an opportunity to farm full time.  Anne had the opportunity to become director of the Hampton Christian Community Daycare, a position she held until four years ago when she started working in Mason City for a company that provides continuing education for childcare providers.

Today John raises corn, soybeans and a little alfalfa.  “What I enjoy most about farming is seeing the fruits of your labor.  So many people never get to see their work have a direct impact on a finished product,” says John. “It’s amazing to watch the creation of plants and animals.  Being able to plant a seed, care for it, and harvest it is a wonderful accomplishment.”  He also contract feeds pigs from 12 pounds to market weight.  In addition, John raises a few head of cattle for his kids’ 4-H projects.

The Plagge’s oldest daughter, Brooklyn, has been a 4-H member for six years.  She enjoyed showing miniature Southdown sheep for five years, but now that she’s a freshman, high school activities have preempted the show ring.  This summer her schedule will be full playing in the Midwest Association Youth Basketball league, taking a missions trip with her church’s youth group, as well as completing 4-H projects.  Brooklyn has been selected twice to present working demonstrations at the Iowa State Fair.

“4-H helps kids develop skills that they’ll use throughout their lives,” says John.  “It’s a good experience for them to learn to talk one-on-one with judges, explaining how and why they made something.  It’s also a good experience for them to learn how to present in front of group.  Think of how many adults suffer from stage fright, but through 4-H, kids can learn to overcome their fears of public speaking.”

Erin, the Plagge’s 10-year-old daughter, is excited to be a first year member of the Marion Monarchs 4-H Club.  She’s looking forward to showing a bucket calf at the 2012 Franklin County Fair.

The Plagge’s six-year-old son, Gage, is a Clover Kid.  This 4-H program for kids in kindergarten through third grade allows them to attend summer programs and enter exhibits at the county fair.  Gage loves building LEGO® sets, so that most likely will be his fair project.  That is if he can come inside long enough to finish building.  Right now he’s having run riding his little Polaris four-wheeler and taking adventures with his best friend, Buzz, the family’s year-old Black Lab.

“We like the freedom that comes with living in the country and raising our kids on our farm,” says John.  “Our kids have lots of space to run and explore.  They’ll play outside for hours with their pets.  And they definitely use their imaginations.  You never know where their imaginations will take them!”

Every day is an adventure when you’re raising three, very active children, who are involved in a host of extracurricular activities. That’s why the Plagge family enjoys quick and easy meals like the recipe they’re sharing today for Wanda Sandwiches.

Wanda Sandwiches


Sandwich Ingredients:

  • 1 load of French bread, split in two
  • 1/2 lb. roast beef
  • 1/2 lb. sliced ham
  • 10 oz. Swiss cheese

Assemble sandwich on tinfoil.


Bring to a boil:

  • 1 stick of margarine
  • 1 tsp. minced onions
  • 2 tsp. poppy seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard

Pour mixture over top of bread and seal with tinfoil.
Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.