It all started with the clothes on his back and $10 in Norbert Jakobs' pocket. The son of a Dutch cattleman, Norbert came to the United States in 1947 in search of a new opportunity. After spending more than two years in hiding during the Holocaust, Norbert spent almost three years working as a farm hand before finally earning enough money to purchase a small 40-acre pasture in Coleta, IL. With a little creek and rolling hills, this pasture became the first homestead of Jakobs' Brothers Farms.
Since 1949, Jakobs Brothers' Farms has transformed into a third-generation operation, now led by Norbert's oldest son, David Jakobs. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in agriculture in 1977, David followed his father's lead and worked on several farms before returning to Norbert's operation at the age of 27. Since returning the farm, David has helped grow the cattle operation by more than 500 percent. Currently, JBF raises several thousand head of cattle annually, with plans for additional growth.
The growth of JBF has continued with the addition of three members of the third generation. Within the last several years, three of David's sons have joined the operation: Nik, Alex and Ricky. All three bring different elements of expertise to the farm. A 2007 graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in Finance, Nik provides a financial background forged by his time as a Principal at The Keystone Group in Chicago. Alex, a 2011 graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in agriculture, has spent years working as an animal health specialist at several farms. And with an MBA from Rockford College, Ricky has made a seamless transition from consulting with UTC Aerospace Systems to becoming an integral part of the cattle and crop operations.
Jakobs Brothers' Farms takes pride in producing and delivering high-end quality beef. Of the thousands of cattle JBF raises every year, over 85 percent are choice or prime Angus beef cattle. A primary reason JBF is able to deliver such quality beef stems from the homegrown crop of corn, wheat, soybeans and rye used to create a very nutritional diet for the animals.
JBF's commitment to tradition and sustainable farming also caught the attention of FamilyFarmed and 1871 in the form of a fellowship. The Good Food Business Accelerator is the non-profits' effort to give small businesses the opportunity to grow, while providing a local, sustainable food.