A fourth-generation potato and vegetable grower, Nathan Bula of Nathan Bula Farms LLC, Adams, Wisconsin, carries on his family’s farming tradition.
Nathan’s father, Gary, son of George and Mae Bula, was born and raised on Bula Potato Farms, in Antigo. Nathan’s mother, Lynda, daughter of Edward and Marilyn Fisher, was also a generational potato farmer. Her grandpa, Lonnie Powell, raised spuds in Langlade County.
In 1970, Gary began sharecropping with another farmer in Plainfield, and two years later, he and Lynda bought land in Grand Marsh and started their own operation.
“On the home farm here in Grand Marsh, I’m only the second generation. Dad and Mom built Gary Bula Farms, Inc. from the ground up,” Nathan says. “I am fourth generation at least in the states. My great grandpa probably farmed potatoes with his own dad in Poland, but we don’t know that.”
“Mom and Dad started Gary Bula Farms from their own sweat equity,” Nathan continues with a sense of pride.
“From my understanding, Dad did some rental agreements in Plainfield, and then wrote Mary Rashke a letter asking to purchase her home farm,” he relates. “It’s cool. We got the letter back recently.”
Nathan says his parents’ work ethic has allowed him to do what he does on both Gary Bula Farms and his own operation, Nathan Bula Farms. He says he inherited his work ethic, capabilities, and drive to succeed from his parents.
“They had some bumps in the road and hard years like everyone else,” he admits, “but they dug in and worked through it.”
The youngest of four, Nathan explains, between his brother, Bryan, sister, Tammy Garz, oldest sister, Jodi, and his parents, they farm roughly 9,600 acres in Adams and Marquette counties and 4,300 acres in Missouri.
“I co-manage Gary Bula Farms and I have my own farm on the side,” Nathan explains. “We farm as a whole, and my parents do the same with my other siblings.”
“My first year of farming on my own was 75 acres that my parents allowed me to rent,” he adds. “That has been the family history of allowing the kids to start a little farm on the side and grow it, and obviously still work on the home farm,” Nathan relates. “They definitely ‘put down pavers for me to step on.’ Yet, my focus is on Gary Bula Farms, and my own operation is secondary.”
Nathan says right now, he raises 1,177 acres on his own farm, including 255 acres of Caribou, Burbank, and Silverton potatoes.
He grows fresh for Alsum Farms & Produce in Friesland and Bushman & Associates in Rosholt. He also grows processing potatoes for McCain’s.
“I also grow corn, soybeans and 250 acres of green beans for Razorback Farms, with my rotation being corn, soybeans, green beans, and potatoes,” he continues.
Nathan says farming for the future is his focus and his son is a big part of it.
He’s the light of my life and of the farm. Obviously, Tate is my drive for wanting to grow potatoes and vegetables and continue farming, and maybe pass down the farm to him if he so chooses.
“He’s my fuel now. He’s why I keep doing what I do, day in and day out. It makes work a lot easier with him being around the farm. He drives in the tractor with me a lot and adores potato farming.”