His parents came to America from Holland in 1955 with only two suitcases, $800, and a love for the dairy industry.
Now Gary, a fifth-generation dairyman, cares for 7,000 cattle in New Mexico. The farm is still a family operation – it just happens to support 50 families. One of those families is his own.
Gary’s wife, Wendy, couldn’t be happier.
“Most people’s husbands go to work in the morning and they see them again at night, but I get to see my husband all day long and the kids come in and out all day long.
“Some days are really hard,” she admits. “There’s a snowstorm and you’re still out working. But you’re all out in it together.”
“We all grew up 50 steps from the milking barn, ” their oldest daughter, Tara Bonestroo-Vander Dussen, says. “It was awesome to have the freedom of going around and seeing all the animals and the circle of life.”
Tara earned an agricultural degree and now works both on the family farm and as an industry consultant. She’s passionate about sharing the stories of families like hers – especially to those who may wonder about the industry’s environmental impact.
“[We are] environmentalists. We take extreme measures to make sure our land and water is safe,” she explains. “This is something I want to be able to pass on to my children and their children after them.”
See more of Tara in our Dairy Up Close docuseries.