Monday, May 18, 2020

CVTC Grad Prepared to Carry On Family Business

Blake Sam will continue family legacy at Sam’s Produce

Article Photo - CVTC Grad Prepared to Carry On Family Business

Blake Sam adds seed to a corn planter at Sam’s Produce in rural Arkansaw. He plans on continuing with the family business after his graduation from CVTC’s Agronomy Management program.


Blake Sam already had a job when he graduated from Durand High School in 2018. In fact, he’s had a job for as long as he can remember, and will continue doing it after his graduation from Chippewa Valley Technical College May 15. He’ll just be better trained.

Blake is the son of Dan Sam, owner of Sam’s Produce in Arkansaw, a family-run business that dates back to 1917 when Anton Sam started a dairy farm. Today, the family is engaged in produce and cash crop farming. Now, as a graduate of the Agronomy Management program at CVTC, Blake can bring a new level of expertise to a farm with more than a century of history.

Blake was one of 757 graduates in 59 programs honored at a live virtual graduation celebration on CVTC’s Facebook page. The event included messages from President Bruce Barker and former Student Association President Rachael Winterling. The largest program was Nursing-Associated Degree with 101 graduates, followed by Business Management with 45 and Criminal Justice with 43. The in-person commencement ceremony will be held in conjunction with the summer graduation on July 30.

“For as far back as I can remember, I was out with mom and dad picking crops,” Blake said. “When I finished high school, I was looking for something to further my education in agriculture, but I didn’t want to go to a four-year college. I was interested in Agronomy and Landscape, Plant and Turf Management at CVTC, and decided on Agronomy.”

Sam’s Produce grows several different vegetables and fruits for sale at the Eau Claire Farmer’s Market and at the farm at W7272 County Road P, Arkansaw. “Strawberries and sweet corn are our biggest crops. Strawberries are the only thing we allow the public to come and pick themselves,” Blake said.

Dan, Blake, and his older brother, Matthew, operate the business. Tammy, Dan’s wife and mother of the boys passed away last year. Dan, 56, continues as the principal owner, with the expectation that the sons will take over the business someday.

Blake says what he learned at CVTC will help.

“We have a lot of older tractors and other equipment, and I wanted to learn about the new technology,” Blake said.

His principal instructor, Brent Christianson, noticed Blake’s interest. “Blake was the first person to get into the new equipment in the field and the last to get out of the equipment. Any chance he could have to operate equipment he took,” Christianson said. “Blake was also able to take material from a classroom setting and relate it back to his own experiences on the vegetable farm. He was always asking questions to push himself to get the most out of his education.”

Blake also took Vegetable and Fruit Production and Greenhouse Management from the Landscape, Plant and Turf Management program, finding them applicable to the family business.

“On the Agronomy side, I developed a different way of thinking on how we operate,” he said. “I’m implementing some of the ideas on the farm, like trying a few more cover crops this year.”

Although he’s a new college graduate, Blake has no need to update his resume and write cover letters for job applications. But it’s spring, and he does have crops to plant fields to plow. It’s what he loves to do, and now he is formally trained.