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Jolene Palmer and her daughters standing in a shop on their farm.

Life, Loss, and a Community of Farmers Helping Farmers

The unimaginable happened to Jolene Palmer. December 23, 2015, will always be a horrific day for her and her family. On that day, Jolene discovered her loving husband, Mike, had lymphoma. In July of 2020, he sadly passed away. What happened to their family and farm shortly after is what can only be described as a miracle by the kindness of the farming community. Together friends, farmers, and even strangers gathered to help Jolene’s family farm complete harvest and celebrate Mike’s life in the best way.

Jolene Palmer in a shop on her farm with a Case IH combine behind her.

Life on the Farm

Jolene and Mike started their agriculture journey about 19 years ago. Fast-forward to November 2015. Like any year, harvest was in full swing and there was little time to slow down. But something was different that year for Mike. He was having difficulty with his hands. They felt tight and something just wasn’t right.

But for farmers the show must go on when it is harvest time.

Once harvest was completed, he went to see his chiropractor. After days of no improvement in his hands, the chiropractor called for an MRI. What he found on Mike’s scan was shocking. He immediately told him to see a doctor as he had found a mass and was diagnosed with lymphoma.

That is when Jolene and her family’s whole life was turned upside down.

After precious time spent together, Mike passed in July, shortly after their 27 year anniversary. Jolene’s daughters believe he was waiting for that day before passing.

Farmers Helping Farmers

When it came time for harvest again, Jolene panicked. Where would they find the help? What were they to do? Luckily, the farming community didn’t disappoint.

A Day of Harvest and Celebrating a Life

Fifty-eight people, including farmers, close friends, family, local businesses, and even a few strangers pulled together to help the Palmer family. The harvest day started with a kick-off meeting and before she knew it the 28 semi-trucks, 12 combines, and 12-grain carts were fired up.

As crazy as 58 people sound like the day went smoothly. In addition to harvest help, the community gave back with hot meals delivered to the field throughout the day. Jolene and her family couldn’t have been more humbled by the outpouring of love on that day.

Fifty-eight volunteers gathered to help finish harvest for the Palmer family and celebrate Mike Palmer's life.

Paying It Forward

She knows she can never repay all of the incredible people who helped that day. Instead, she and her daughters are committed to paying forward for years to come.

Jolene’s story is the epitome of farmers helping farmers. She knows Mike was there on the joyous harvest day. They could tell from the sunrise he was there right alongside them. While that can’t replace him being here, she feels truly blessed for the outpouring of love their family and farm received that day.

Mike Palmer's blue semi truck

Everybody Eats 

Find More Stories at Everybody Eats

We all eat, and that is why farming will always matter.  Everybody Eats is where the stories of food and farming intersect.  

These stories told through my FarmHer lens connect us to our food and more importantly, the people behind it.  

Everybody Eats is a collection of stories of those who protect our rural communities, who grow our food with extraordinary care, and who provide support, education, and assistance to make sure Everybody Eats. 


4 thoughts on “Life, Loss, and a Community of Farmers Helping Farmers

  1. Loved the story of the Farmers helping Farmers. That’s just want they do. My dad passed away in 1991 at the age of 50 from heart failure. Our little farming community showed up big time to help harvest his last cotton crop the week of Thanksgiving. There was an article on the front page of the newspaper. Such a great story. I reread it again just last week and still gives me chills to remember the love that was shown.

  2. I liked this article because it says that even went time are hard farmer still have to go out there and do what they do best. I learned that farmer are there for each other no matter what. this is useful information because if you are a farmer and you need help you know where you can go.

  3. I like this because the community helped her when she needed it most. I learned that no matter what you can still help people. I think this is useful because its teaching you to help other people.

  4. I really got interested in this because of how she still went on with life when she was having the worst time.
    I learned that no matter what happens in life to move on and take it as a sign to maybe work harder. This is useful because you would learn a lot from what she has experienced in life.

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