Kansas farmer secures new purpose for his land
Harold Lonsinger, 1952 graduate in mechanical engineering, still grinds corn and feeds his cattle by hand. With his farm pup, Rusty, he labors each day to fulfill a vow he made when his much-loved wife, Olympia, was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Harold has invested his manual labor into the Osborne County land and raised cattle since retiring in 1984. He has learned much about soil conservation and sustainable agricultural practices in the last decades, which led him to partner with the Kansas State University Foundation to establish the Harold and Olympia Lonsinger Sustainability Research Farm on 2,300 acres of farmland.
“I was given this land for a purpose,” Harold said. “I want to know why or how nature developed this land to produce in a way that is essentially eternal. We don’t know how long the buffalo were here, but the land developed in a way to support 30 million buffalo. The soil maintained a nutrient balance to meet the needs of those buffalo, and because they were healthy, they could cope with whatever happened. The land produced year after year; generating millions of tons of forage.”
When Harold speaks of his love for Olympia, his smile fills the conversation. It is his love for her that led him to work the land and his love for the land which led him to donate the acreage so K-State researchers will learn how best to restore the soil to its historic quality.
To ensure the long-term operation of the Harold and Olympia Lonsinger Sustainability Farm, Harold included funds in his will to underwrite the farm’s operations.
“Harold’s gift of more than 2,000 acres of quality Kansas farm- and grassland will become a hallmark of sustainable farming research at K-State,” said John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension. “The research we will be able to conduct will have application for Kansas farmers and for producers worldwide.”