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Real Stories from Real Minnesota Farm Families

 

Real Stories[
**]Real Minnesota Farm Families

Wanda Patsche, author

 

Copyright 2017 Wanda Patsche

Published by Wanda Patsche at Shakespir

 

 

 

Shakespir Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Shakespir.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

About the Author

Chapter One – Jeff and Chandrel Pagel

Chapter Two – Tom and Nancy Rhy

Chapter Three – Corey Hanson

Chapter Four – Laura Kieser

Chapter Five – Travis and Jeanine Fowler

Chapter Six – Paulette Legred

Chapter Seven – Tiffanie Tripp

Chapter Eight – Andrew and Chelsa Goldberg

Chapter Nine – Janet Bremer

Chapter Ten – Jared Luhmann

Chapter Eleven – David and Mary Mohn

Chapter Twelve – Thomas and Janae Olson

Chapter Thirteen – Craig Fischer

Chapter Fourteen – Kroll Family Farm

Chapter Fifteen – Dylan Thisius

Chapter Sixteen – Wayne and Abbie Samerow

Chapter Seventeen – Steve and Jodi Ohlsen Read

Chapter Eighteen – Luke Daninger

Chapter Nineteen – Jason and Jennifer Kirchner/Stonegate Orchard

Chapter Twenty – Tony Kornder

Chapter Twenty-One – Rachael Korman

Chapter Twenty-Two – Glacial Ridge Winery

Chapter Twenty-Three – Doug and Lois Hoffbauer

Chapter Twenty-Four – The Ammann Family

Chapter Twenty-Five – Pakou Hang

Connect with Wanda Patsche

 

[Chapter One
Jeff and Chandrel Pagel]

The Pagels live in southeast Minnesota and are a third generation family farm. They also use cover crops on their cropland.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We currently have a dairy herd of 70 Holstein cows as well as 75 crossbred beef cows.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

3 Generations

 

Jeff and Chandra Pagel

Tell me a little about what you grow/raise/produce or service provided.

 

Our dairy herd consists primarily of Holsteins. We milk our cows 2x per day. Replacement heifer calves are kept and raised on the farm. Our bull calves are sold as feeders. We also have a small cow/calf beef herd made up of 75 crossbred beef cows. Beef calves are raised and sold each year as feeders. We raise multiple crops for feed such as: alfalfa, sorghum, rye grass, and corn.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Our milk is sold to Land O’Lakes and we grow peas for freezing and canning, which are sold to Seneca Foods. Our corn, and soybeans are used primarily for animal feed on the farm.

Replacement heifers

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

Jeff: We live on a 3rd generation family farm. In 2014 we built a new manure pit to aid in manure management and give us virtually zero runoff on the farm. With the added manure storage, it allows us to spread manure when it is needed on appropriate fields.

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

Jeff: We use cover crops to improve soil health and prevent erosion while at the same time still producing feed for the livestock. This allows us to get more out of the land while improving soil health and quality. For example, after we chop corn for silage we seed in winter rye to get cover for winter. In the spring, we are then able to harvest the rye for feed.

 

What is a most embarrassing moment you have had on the farm?

 

Chandra: A couple winters ago, I was carrying a five-gallon pail of milk out to the calf shed to feed our bucket calves. Our neighbor was walking behind me. All of a sudden, I slid on a patch of ice and landed on my backside, the milk went everywhere and the neighbor boy saw the whole thing happen!

Jeff: I would say anytime I get anything stuck, especially getting the tractor stuck in the field because you have to go find someone to help you out.

Beef herd

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

Chandra: I really love being able to connect with the animals. To me, there is still nothing more exciting than watching or assisting with the birth of a new calf.

Jeff: I enjoy taking care of the animals on a day to day basis and watching them grow from calves to milk cows.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

Chandra: How hard we work to make sure our animals are safe, fed, and healthy each day. Before marrying into the farm life, I didn’t know much about farming at all. I will be honest in saying that I didn’t really have a clue on what being a farmer entailed before meeting Jeff. I was disconnected from where my food really came from and didn’t really understand all the hard work that is put in day in and day out in order to produce safe and healthy products for our family and consumers. Now that I have had some experience under my belt, I am able to share more with people that don’t have any farm exposure. It allows them an “insider” perspective on farming and ranching as well as getting information straight from the source rather than the Internet.

Jeff: I wish people would take more time to ask more questions and become more informed about where their food comes from using reliable sources. Many farmers are willing to share information about their operation, people need to know that its ok to ask.

 

[Chapter Two
Tom and Nancy Rys]

Tom and Nancy Rys are from Rock Creek, which is located in east central Minnesota.

They also farm with their daughter and son-in-law, Cami and Joe Babolik and family, Macie 10, Milo, 8 Melia 4.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

Tom and Nancy began farming in 1989. In 1992, they built their current farmstead. This year their daughter Cami and her husband Joe Babolik joined the corporation. Joe came on the farm full time to ensure future continuation of the operation. Rys Farms Inc. crop farms 1,650 acres, half in corn and half in soybeans. In addition to crop farming, the Rys famiy owns and operates the local grain elevator where they assist 20-25 neighboring farmers to dry, store, and market their grain. Tom and Nancy also have had a Pioneer Seed agency for 13 years.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

Both coming from farm backgrounds, Tom grew up on a small farm west of Pine City. While his brother remained on the home farm, Tom ventured out working for local farmers in the Rock Creek area, where he decided to start farming on his own. Nancy’s family owned the local implement business. It was a match made in the parts department. We began building the farmstead in the early 1990’s.

Rys Family

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We are very service oriented. In addition to seed sales, we offer seed treatment, scouting service, marketing assistance and trucking. Cami is a crop insurance agent in addition to her own accounting business.

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

Most of our grain is shipped directly to river terminals in the Twin Cities or to processors in Mankato. Jennie-O Turkey feed mills are also an outlet for corn which provide a winter destination when the Mississippi River is closed to barge traffic.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

We love the farm, we love the land. We love the lifestyle in which we were raised, raised our family, and now our grandchildren are being raised in the same manner. It is our goal to assist the next generation of young farmers to get started farming.

Grain cart and weigh wagon

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

Because most consumers are multi-generations removed from agriculture, there is little sense of gratitude or respect for farmers today. Society looks to the grocery store as their source of food, however, often forgets the farmers working hard in all aspects of agriculture who do their part to ensure we have this abundant food supply.

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

East Central Minnesota is a unique area to agriculture. The lake effect from Lake Superior, nearly 100 miles away, often brings cool nights and early frost dates. No university studies or seed company trials are conducted here, so we do our own. Data is collected from several sources and results shared with area growers to educate us all to improve on practices.

 

[Chapter Three
Corey Hanson]

Corey is from Gary, which is located in northwest Minnesota. Both Corey and I were both part of Class VIII of the MARL program. Corey raises corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cattle. In addition, Corey is a board member at the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

I have a family run farm in NW MN. I grow corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Besides having crops, I have 90 head of beef cows in a cow/calf operation, that are mostly Hereford and Hereford-Angus cross. I am in partnership with my brother and dad. And perhaps the most interesting aspect of his farm is nearly all his crops are exported, unlike in the southern part of the state where much of the crops are used for local livestock production.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

Dad started to farm the land when he came home from Korea in the spring of 1955. I purchased additional land in 2000. I have lived all my life on the farm.

Hanson family

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

Nearly all my crops are exported from my area. The corn and soybeans are loaded on unit trains, bound for the Pacific Northwest, Washington, for export mainly to Asian countries. This was especially interesting when I was on a MARL trip to Vietnam, to be able to see where some of the crops end up. The some of the wheat I grow ends up in the flour mills in the state of MN, while the other part is grown for seed sales to other farmers in my area. The calves are sold at the sales barn in Bagley MN, and usually go to feedlots in Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. A few years ago, some of our heifers were sold and shipped to the republics of the former Soviet Union, to replenish their cattle.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

The part of my business that I am proud of is knowing where my products are going. Knowing that my products are being shipped half way around the world, to feed hungry people gives me a great feeling.

It was very interesting working with the cattle buyer at the time are heifers were going to the Russian republics. At the time I was thinking that my cattle were seeing more of the world than I am. It also makes me proud that I grow seed wheat for other farmers to grow their wheat from.

Test plot

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

I live on the bank of old Lake Aggazzi. This was left when the ice age reseeded. What is interesting, is that we have some land with coarse soil, sand and gravel, and some very rich fertile soil, that has a large part of clay in it. This fertile soil is very black!! It is interesting that not everywhere in the world has black fertile soil!

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

I also work with the U of M, with the soybean test plots. I have a soybean cysts nematode plot on my farm, and enjoy working with the University personal to help educate other farmers about this and other issues in farming.

I really enjoyed going into the classrooms in the Minneapolis teaching the kids about my farm. It made me feel so good to tell my story about Agriculture.

Harvesting

[Chapter 4
Laura Kieser]

Laura is from Jordan, near Minneapolis and her farm is called Four Season Farms where they raise dairy goats. In addition to raising dairy goats, Laura also works for AgStar.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

My husband Chris and I raise, show, and sell registered Saanen and Nubian dairy goats under the herd name “FSF” which stands for Four Seasons Farm. We are located close to the beautiful MN River. We are members of the MN Dairy Goat Association, American Dairy Goat Association and Farm Bureau. I also work for AgStar Financial Services as a Product Manager and Chris is a Special Projects Engineer with Element Technologies in Bloomington, MN.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

We have had this joint venture as FSF since 2004. Although Laura has had agriculture, dairy and dairy goats in her life since the day she was born. Laura grew up on a dairy farm in Upstate New York, involved in every area of the business from bookwork to milking, breeding and field work. As a teenager, Laura wanted to show cattle, and her dad was unsure about that. Not one to back down, she partnered with Heifer Project and was able to start her own dairy goat herd. Chris had limited agriculture experience before meeting Laura, although his extended family has deep roots in West Central MN. Being a quick study and a problem solver, Chris has become equally knowledgeable.

Laura with her goat

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We raise, sell, and show Saanen and Nubian dairy goats. We are very active showing our goats around MN and some in WI. We have shown at a National level a few times. In addition, we participate in DHIA milk testing for our goats, taking advantage of the proven level of production of our herd over generations. We also participate in the linear appraisal program, which is similar to classification in dairy cattle. This helps us evaluate each animal and impact of breeding decisions over time.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Our end customer is usually someone looking to add a highly productive member to their herd. Some are first-time buyers, many are return buyers after valuing the production and longevity of our animals in their herd. Some purchase bucks to bring genetics into their herd over many years, others are looking for a family milker or 4H project for youth. In addition to selling to other people, we also spend a lot of time educating others about dairy goats and agriculture. We have participated in many open house events in communities around us. We also value time spent with family and friends at the farm, always having a teachable moment.

Dairy goats

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

We have had 3 consecutive Junior Champion Saanen does at the MN State Fair from 2013 through 2015, and followed that in 2016, that first Junior Champion became our first Senior Champion at the MN State Fair. We exported our first animal to Puerto Rico this year! An amazing experience, and we are so honored that this buyer put so much trust in our genetics.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

I love the dairy industry, and dairy goats specifically. There is no other animal with so much personality, intelligence, or humor. I have had dairy goats in my blood since a 4-H project that turned into a business, then came back into my life as an adult. They are my therapy!

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

Just because we love having people come to the farm, and we are a small farm, that does not mean we have an open door policy. There is a lot of work to be done to have the farm in order and looking as nicely as it does when people come through. Please respect our time as well as yours. We may be a small farm, but we are still a business trying to cover our costs, and a couple who works hard and needs sleep (especially during kidding season!)

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

We are not licensed to sell milk commercially or sell product (cheese, milk, etc.) to the public. Our main focus in on animal husbandry, genetics, and a high level of management so that the animals can succeed and reach their highest potential.

Show goats

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

MN and the Midwest are the center of the US and therefore serve as a bit of a hub in the way of high quality feed and forages, resources and research, as well as other breeders to network with.

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

One of my favorite MN locations has to be the MN Science Museum. First of all, Chris and I had our first date there when we met. Since then we have found great value in a membership and being able to take in new exhibits and spend time there when farm related items allow us to get out for an afternoon. It’s a nice day out.

 

[Chapter 5
Travis and Jeanine Fowler]

Travis and Jeanine Fowler of Truman, which is located in south central Minnesota. They raise multiple livestock. Be sure to find out how many baby lambs their ewe gave birth to! It’s amazing!

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We are a family farm. I farm with my parents, wife and children. I am the 6th generation to farm.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

I guess you could say I was born into it. I got my first sheep at about age 5 but got my real start at 15 years of age.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We raise sheep, dairy goats (for show), poultry, hogs, corn, soybeans and some hay.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Lambs go to a packer in Denver and some off the farm. We also sell some breeding stock too. The wool goes to Groenewald Fur & wool in IL. We sell eggs and broiler chickens locally. We sell hogs to Tyson Foods. We feed all our corn to the livestock. We sell the soybeans to CHS or elevator and buy back soybean meal for the livestock. We feed the hay. Our end consumer is people who eat pork, lamb and use soy products.

Fowler family with the 8 baby lambs born by one ewe!

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

Our family has been farming here since 1856.

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

I’ve always wanted to be a farmer. I think its the best way to raise a family.

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

In the spring of 2014 we had a ewe that had 8 baby lambs. They all lived and we still have them.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

Farming runs deep in my blood. I don’t think of it as a job or a career but as a way of life. I love the spring when every thing come to life, new baby animals, new plants etc. And I love the harvest. Its when all are hard work pays off.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

How hard we work to produce safe healthy food.

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

We have had school field trip out here or I take Lambs to the school.

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

Its always changing, every year is different.

 

Feeding a baby goat

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

The diversity of businesses here.

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

Sitting in the deer stand or pheasant hunting behind a good dog.

 

What is one ag-related place in Minnesota that others need to know about.

 

The Martin County Fair

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

It is not the ground, it is not the crops, it is not the livestock, it is not the machinery, that makes a farmer. It is the faith, hard work, and the love of it all that makes a farmer!

 

[Chapter 6
Paulette Legred]

Paulette Legred is from Bricelyn, which is located in south central Minnesota.

Paulette has a very unique story. I must admit, this is probably one of my most unique "30 Days of MN Ag" stories. She creates professional hair products from her farm such as corn and soybeans. Her business is very new -- having launched it in September, 2016. I love her phrase, "Farm to Fashion!" I know I will be trying some of her products. Enjoy!

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

Lis’n is a professional hair care product line sold through salons and to consumers, envisioned, developed and shipped directly from our farm. With a nod to the American farmer, Lis’n’s premium, active Farm to Fashion™ ingredients are safe and naturally farm-derived. Crafted with respect to our world each product utilizes farm products such as protein from sheep’s wool; corn, soy, and macadamia seed for moisture; and ruby red grapefruit for scents. Lis’n is formulated with straight-forward honest hardworking systems, just like farmers and hairdressers.

 

Lis’n

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

I launched Lis’n premium hair care in September 2016. Long before I started selling shampoo, I grew up on a farm and did just about every farm job imaginable. That’s where I learned a handshake is a deal, your word is all you really have in life, and a great work ethic will take you far. Fast forward a few years and I opened a tiny salon on my farm planned for 2 stylists and grew to a staff of 6, and booked solid until the day it was sold. After owning my salon I worked for beauty industry manufactures and traveled the USA and Canada as an educator, gust artist and sales director. Along the way, I developed wonderful relationships, that inspired me to begin my own product line.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

Besides being formulated with Farm to Fashion™ ingredients, Lis’n celebrates the relationships between the stylist and guest by telling the stories of triumphs and tears both behind and IN the chair. Stories such as:

Supermom stylist returned home to be greeted by little ones demanding attention. Overly preoccupied with the daily “to do” list her son implored, “Mommy, listen to me with your eyes.” A stillness enveloped her and the day’s stresses evaporated. The only task at hand was to listen.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Lis’n is sold to professional salons and all professionals. I like a definition I heard of the word, “professional”. “A professional isn’t a specific job, such as a doctor, lawyer, etc, but rather how one functions within a given profession.” I sell to professional hairdressers, farmers, teachers, anyone who is progressive and passionate about life.

 

Lis’n Hair Products

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

Our “Farm to Fashion™ naturally farm derived ingredients truly provide our point of difference. What we do and how the products are formulated matters! We are sulfate-free, which protects our water. Lis’n is gluten-free in order to avoid allergies, and paraben free for safety. And of course, we don’t test our products on animals, we’re from a farm!

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

I love the similarity of farmers and hairdressers. That may sound odd, but they both are hard-working, independent, and extremely passionate about what they do. I love building relationships with the professionals I work with and sell to. I love providing a safe product for people to use. I love providing a means for increasing income for hairdressers.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

Professional products are very different from big box store products!

Think of it this way…. All wine is made of grapes, Wine making processes are all similar, yet some wines are $4 and others are hundreds of dollars. The difference is the quality of the grapes and the purity of the wine making process. The same is true of hair care products. Professional manufactures are at the top of their game finding innovative ingredients, such as “Farm to Fashion™” ingredients that are safer, for you and your environment and take care of your hair, the same way a farmer cares for the land.

Follow the money! When one buys hair care products from a local salon, they make a profit. The profit is reinvested in your community. When one buys hair care product from a “big box store”, you pay for advertising and celebrity endorsement.

 

Lis’n

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

During this process, I was told by two industry “mixologists” that my formulations with Farm to Fashion™ ingredients was too expensive and I needed to go home and reformulate using cheaper ingredients. I refused! I knew my formulations were spot on because my chemist was raised on a farm, is a hairdresser and a Minnesotan! I KNEW farm ingredients were the answer to great hair care. I found a Minnesota company who respects our “Farm to Fashion™ ingredients and works beautifully with me. I am proud to work with these professionals.

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

I developed Lis’n because I was frustrated about a lot of professional brands in the industry. Many are sold in big box stores, actually competing with the stylists. I created a brand they can trust. I also developed Lis’n to honor farmers and to raise awareness of how many different uses there are for farm products.

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

Lis’n is entirely made in Minnesota. Why that’s important is because Minnesota is home to industry greats such as Aveda, Scruples and LeMar. What that means for you is in Minnesota there exists a pool of great chemists and mixologists, fillers and many key personnel who deliver a safe product in a culture of high standards. As a Minnesotan, I have easy access for follow up for every step of the Farm to Fashion process.

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

Minnesotans embrace support teams. They are there to lean on and learn from. I couldn’t have done this without my chemist and creative designer. Their advice, industry connections and expertise are unequaled. They picked me up when I felt defeated multiple times. Close friends and stylists gave me words of inspiration and respect and asked, “How can I help?” My family is a key part of my support team. They never doubted I could be successful and immediately offered ideas and pitched in with the unglamorous jobs. In Minnesota we help each other out.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

Lis’n was named, “Lis’n” because we as hairdressers listen to our guests. Guests listen to their hairdressers. I love this quote, “Listen to understand, not just to reply.” We all need to listen.

 

[Chapter 7
Tiffanie Tripp]

Tiffanie Tripp from Graise Farm. Graise Farm is located in Faribault. They raise pastured ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I love Tiffanie’s story about duck eggs. I learned a lot the nutritional value of duck eggs! It’s important to me that I share all types of farms and if you are looking for niche farms, please research the Minnesota Grown directory.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

Graise Farm is a small, diverse livestock farm located in between Faribault and Northfield. Formerly a dairy farm, we have repurposed many of the outbuildings into chicken coops and shelters for ducks, goats and pigs. All of our animals have daily access to the outdoors year-round and are raised humanely.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

2 years – We started raising a few chickens in November 2014.

 

Tripp family

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

At Graise Farm, we raise pastured pigs, egg-laying chickens and ducks, broiler chickens, turkeys and goats. All animals have daily access to the outdoors. Almost all animals are fed certified organic feed with the exception of one flock of chickens that are fed locally raised feed(non-organic).

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Our pasture-raised pork is sold direct to consumers by the half hog. We sell chicken and duck eggs at the Faribault Farmers’ Market and Linden Hills Farmers’ Market. Graise Farm chicken and duck eggs are available at Just Food Coop in Northfield. We sell our non-organic chicken eggs to Bluebird Cakery and under the brand Local Yolks at the Crack of Dawn Bakehouse in Faribault. Broiler chickens and eggs are available for sale at the farm. Most recently we started selling duck eggs to restaurants in Minneapolis that source food locally.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

Our farm is a retired dairy farm that has been in Tiffany’s family since 1944. We are proud to be repurposing the old dairy buildings and utilizing the land to raise diverse livestock species bringing the farm back to its roots and how it was in the mid-twentieth century.

 

Ducks

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

Initially, our goal was to raise food that we consumed ourselves. In our first year, we raised chickens for eggs and meat and pastured-pork, all organic fed. After taking a few farm classes through the Sustainable Farming Association, our interests changed from not only raising animals for food, but to also raise animals for different purposes on the farm. Our pigs root/till the ground. Chickens and ducks eat insects and provide high nitrogen fertilizer. This year we added goats to help control invasive plants and to reclaim old pastures.

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

You can eat duck eggs. In fact, duck eggs are highly nutritious. They have 50% more omega 3’s and 30% more protein than chicken eggs. You can use duck eggs for egg dishes in place of chicken eggs. Many people like duck eggs for baking as they are larger and richer adding more flavor to cakes and other baked goods. Duck eggs also bind better when baking with gluten-free flours.

 

Pigs

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

GRAISE stands for Grassfed Raised Humanely Animals In a Sustainable Environment. These are all important values for us and our farm.

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

Our customers are consumers that care about humanely raised animals and that seek out highly flavorful food from our pasture raised animals.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

We are organizing a new Winter Farmers’ Market in Faribault, MN to make it easier for consumers to buy locally produced food year-round. It will take place Saturdays 1-4pm at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault from November 19th to December 17th.

 

[Chapter 8
Andrew and Chelsa Goldberg]

Andrew and Chelsa Golberg live in Deer Creek. They are first generation dairy farmers and they sell their milk to First District Association where most of it goes to Bongaards Creamery and made into cheese.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We have a 200 cow dairy. We milk three times a day, raise all of our replacements and farm about 500 acres of corn and alfalfa.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

11 years this October!! My husband, Andrew, started the dairy with his parents in 2005, the year before we graduated from the University of Minnesota. They began by renovating an old tie stall barn and put in a swing 10 parlor and bought a herd of 50 cows. We moved to the farm after graduating in 2006 and officially bought out his parents in 2009. Every year we have expanded and or made significant changes to improve our cow comfort, workplace enjoyment, productivity and efficiency.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

Since we have a dairy farm and milk is our main product all of the crops we raise go towards feeding our own animals.

 

Goldberg Family

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

We sell our milk to First District Association, most of it goes Bongards Creamery in Perham, MN and is made into cheese.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

We are a first generation dairy farm. This means that we have had to learn the business, establish working relationships and experience most everything for the first time.

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

My husband, Andrew, has always had a passion for it, he has wanted to dairy farm since about the age of five!! His parents encouraged him to attend college so he would have a degree in agriculture as well, and it only solidified his decision. In the beginning of our relationship he asked me if I was really “ok” with what he wanted to do for a living? (I had no clue what I was getting into…) but I told him that as long as he could wake up every morning doing a job that he enjoyed that’s all that mattered.

 

Working on the farm!

 

If there is one thing you could change about farming it would be . . .

 

To get paid more for what we do, most of the time it’s a real struggle financially and with all the time and hard work we put it in it can be very discouraging to not be able to pay your bills.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

It’s not boring! Every day is a challenge. A lot of planning and calculating goes into every decision and there are so many areas of a dairy farm that even though there are certain jobs you do every day, there are many things that change every day as well. There is room for family members to be a part of it in ways they enjoy as well.

 

Goldberg Farm

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

How much we strive to make our cows comfortable and happy. Every day their needs are at the top of the list and we truly care about their quality of life. They are like big pets to us.

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

There is a good market for milk here and abundant feed resources.

 

[Chapter 9
Janet Bremer]

Janet Bremer is from Hastings and her family are dairy farmers. Janet has an interesting story where she won a national photo contest by showing her family cheering for the MN Vikings game near the dairy cows. The picture is shown below and is very cute! Janet is also a fellow blogger so be sure to check her blog, My Barnyard View out.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

Three generations live and work on Bremer Farms. Along with my in-laws, John and I, and our children Sara and Michael make up the Bremer Farms work force. Sara, Michael, and I also have jobs off the farm. Our dairy farm is located just 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and directly across the road from a beautiful golf course!

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

Bremer Farms began in 1952 when my father-in-law purchased the farm. Since John and I were both raised on dairy farms, I guess you could say we have been in the dairy business all our lives.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We milk 130 Holstein cows, raise another 120 young stock and raise our bull calves for feeder cattle. We own 270 acres and rent additional cropland. We raise corn, oats, and alfalfa. We grow all the feed for our cattle, and when it’s a good year for growing crops, we sell the extra.

 

Bremer Family Farms

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Our milk is sold to Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) who currently have a contract with Land O Lakes (Dean Foods). It is processed in Woodbury, MN where it is sold as fluid milk, or made into sour cream, cottage cheese or ice cream. You can find our milk in your grocery store within 48 hours of leaving our farm!

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

A couple years ago we entered and won a national photo contest showing/combining our love of dairy farming and our favorite NFL team. Our prize was a visit from former Minnesota Viking Toby Gerhardt. Toby, the nicest guy ever, spent the day helping on our farm, surrounded by radio, TV and print media. (I have included our winning photo).

 

Winning Photo

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

I would like consumers to know that we take great pride in what we do to produce safe, wholesome and nutritious dairy foods. Farming can be rewarding as well as a challenging occupation. As a family we have done a lot of hard work to make our farm successful. We are a proud farm family that cares for, and respects our animals and the land.

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

Other than our farm, my favorite place is the Minnesota State Fair. Being the Minnesota State Dairy Princess Coordinator, one of my responsibilities is chaperoning the 11 finalists and Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Minnesota’s goodwill ambassador, for the 12 days of the fair. Besides my enjoyment of everything related to the fair, I love that the State Fair gives non-ag related folks an opportunity to meet these dairy farm daughters and get their questions answered straight from someone who know what it’s like to be involved in the dairy business.

 

Janet in milking barn

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

I would like to encourage everyone to consult a farmer if you have a question. Social media can be a huge asset to tell our story, but unfortunately social media also tells another story that may not be true. Please, ask a farmer! If you have a question about your pet’s health, you would go to a veterinarian. If you have a question about your car, you would go to a mechanic. If you have a question about your food, why wouldn’t you go to a farmer?

 

[Chapter 10
Jared Luhmann]

Jared Luhmann’s farm is Dry Creek Red Angus, which is located in Goodhue. Goodhue is located in southeast Minnesota—a very scenic part of our state.

Jared and his family raise certified red Angus and Herefords in addition to organic corn and black edible beans. I just love to see young people who return to the family farm!

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We are a family farm, currently operated by myself and my father, Jon Luhmann. We believe that with cattle we can not only sustain, but improve the land which we have been blessed to farm. My dad taught me that our job is to leave the land in better condition than how we received it.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

I ask my family how long we have been farming and nobody know exactly how many generations we go back. It’s safe to say that it has been a long time! However, I do know that my grandpa bought the farm we currently are on in the 1960’s and have been raising cattle since then and started raising organic crops in 2000.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

On our farm we raise registered Red Angus and Hereford cattle. They are entirely grass fed meaning that they are not fed any grain. We try to graze as late into the year as possible and when we run out of stockpiled grass we begin to feed hay. From these cattle, we produce quality grass based genetics for breeding stock and quality grass fed beef. We also raise certified organic corn and black edible beans.

 

Luhmann Family

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

I prefer to market our beef directly to the consumer rather than selling through restaurants or stores. I love building relationships with them and showing them how and why we do what we do. Our bulls we market through Pharo Cattle Company and will be sold to beef producers across the continent.

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

I believe that the way we raise our cattle and farm is sustainable on every level. It allows us to build the soil and the land that we farm. It also allows us to provide a good life for the cattle we raise. It allows us to be profitable enough to make a living for multiple families that depend on income from this farm. It allows us to work hard yet still maintain a good work-life balance. And at the end of the day, we are able to produce a quality, healthy, safe product that consumer can genuinely enjoy! These all combined with the fact that I just love what I get to do makes doing what I do an easy decision.

 

If there is one thing you could change about farming it would be . . .

I wish that everybody who wanted to had the ability and resources to get into and make a living off of farming. It can be so difficult to get started! I have been fortunate to grow up on a farm and for there to be a need for me when I graduated from college, unfortunately not everybody is that lucky!

 

Red Angus Cattle

 

What is a most embarrassing moment you have had on the farm?

 

I remember several years ago when I was raising hogs for 4H to show at the fair, I learned how smart pigs really were. I got a call from my grandma that my pigs were in her garden and sure enough I found that they had dug under the wall of the shed!

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

I love that every day I get to step out my door and I am at work! And my coworkers are my family. But I also just love the fact that you never reach a finish line, that I know there will always be something I can do, change, or add to the farm. There is always something else and that hope and excitement is something that I love. Maybe that’s just right now while I’m young and ambitious but I feel as if that is something I will always enjoy! Also the fact that it’s a family tradition that I get to keep alive and hopefully pass down some day to my children.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

That our cattle are well cared for, while we know that they serve a purpose of feeding people, that doesn’t take anything away from us caring for them. I love my cows, and I have so many friends who love theirs as well!

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

While I am busy and might not always be able to, I do love showing people my farm! I want them to see it and understand what we do. So many people don’t have that opportunity, I want to give them that opportunity!

 

Cattle

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

Our customers are anybody who enjoys grass fed beef and believes in what we do!

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

Minnesota definitely has a bunch of both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to farming. We are so fortunate to be in a high moisture area which is obviously essential for plant growth and allows us to get much more production without irrigation. We also have an advantage of mild summer heat in comparison to southern states which doesn’t scorch crops or place as much heat stress on the cattle. Unfortunately, the further north you are the shorter the growing season is and as we all know, Minnesota winters can be brutal.

 

[Chapter 11
David and Mary Mohn]

Flower Valley Vineyard is from Red Wing and owned by David and Mary Mohn. They grow and use cold climate grapes.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We are a small farm winery operating on family owned farm.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

John Mohn purchased the farm in 1968 and raised different animals, corps and horse boarding. After retiring in the med 1990’s he rented out the crop fields. In 2002 the vineyard was established we grew grapes to sell to other wineries until 2011 we made our fist vintage. We opened the tasting room in 2012.

 

David and Mary Mohn

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We produce cold climate grapes for making cold climate wines which we taste in our tasting room.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

At this time we do not sell our wine wholesale, we like having our customers coming to our winery and learn about cold climate grapes, growing grapes and making cold climate wines.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

We are a working farm winery. Our customers are encouraged to walk in the vineyard and check out the grapes during the growing season.

 

Flower Valley Vineyard

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

We encourage our customers to help us with our harvest in the fall. Most people do not have the opportunity to experience fall harvesting on a farm. Getting crops in for making wine.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

While wine making and vineyards are romantic, you work all year. Most farming is done once the harvest is in, with vineyards you start pruning the vines once they harden off.

 

Flower Valley Vineyard

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

We are so fortunate to have the University of Minnesota develop cold hardy varital grapes.

 

[Chapter 12
Thomas and Janae Olson]

Thomas and Janae Olson are from Danvers. Danvers has a population of 97 and is located in western Minnesota (to be honest, I had never heard of Danvers!) Thomas and Janae are young family farmers and are continuing the family farming tradition.

[Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?
**]

We are a fourth generation family farm from western Minnesota.

[How long have you farmed or been in business?
**]

I have farmed for 15 years.

[Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.
**]

We raise corn and soybeans. We sell our crops to WestCon Cooperative.

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

The Olson family. Pic credit to Nicole Bohlen Photography

 

We are very proud of what we do. We take great pride in running a clean and organized operation. We are proud in growing and providing a good quality product.

What I love most about farming is watching how each year so many different challenges to overcome and learning new ways to overcome the challenges. I am also proud of being able to raise our family on the same farm I grew up on so our two little boys can enjoy all what the farm life has to offer.

 

Thomas Olson

 

What would you like to tell your customers?

 

I wish consumers would take the time to educate themselves about the GMO issue—to understand what it means and not believe the anti-GMO activists.

 

Olson boys

 

A little about Janae

 

I do marketing work in the healthcare industry. I grew up in the town of Benson (Minnesota) and didn’t really have much knowledge of farming before dating Tom. We’ve been together for over ten years (married for 5). I was a stay-at-home mom for two and a half years and loved it…the boys (Lucas – 3 and Derek – 18 months now) got to experience so much on the farm during those couple of years.

 

What is one ag-related place in Minnesota that others need to know about. What is one non-ag related place in Minnesota that others need to know about and why?

 

Driving through western Minnesota in late June when the crops are looking good with so much promise is something everyone would enjoy.

The north shore of Lake Superior is a must for everyone who has not yet been there.

 

[Chapter 13
Craig Fischer]

Craig Fischer owns Sleepy Bison. The Fischers are from Sleepy Eye in south central Minnesota. They have been raising bison for a little over three years.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We operate a small, diversified, pasture based farm. The pulse of the farm revolves around our bison herd, while our poultry, pigs, cats, and dog round out the farm. We believe in natural regenerative production of food, centered on the production of quality grasses and forage, just like our grandparents.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

I have been actively farming on the family farm as long as I can remember. We focused more on row crop production when I grew up, only having feeder cattle for a couple seasons. My family has a rich history in the dairy sector, though, with many former dairy princesses, the first 3E rated dairy cow in MN (rated excellent 3 years in a row), and the first 50 cow dairy herd in the county; the farm place we live on has raised just about everything over the years, except bison.

My wife Elizabeth and I jumped into the bison industry a little over 3 years ago. We got married and started fencing together. We have not looked back since. While the bison were jumping stone number one, we started raising chickens two years ago and made our first splash into the turkey and hog business in 2016.

 

Fischer Family “Sleepy Bison Acres”

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We pasture bison, pigs, turkeys, meat chicken, and run free range egg laying chickens on a 4th generation farm site located in south central MN. We sell all of our meat and produce directly to consumers. We raise our bison from gate to plate, meaning we have the cows that produce the calves that become the meat animals. These animals go right from our pasture to your plate.

When the weather begins warming in the spring, we experience a flush of youth on the farm. To complement our large grazers, we hatch our own laying hens to roam the pasture and produce tasty free range eggs. We buy chicks to produce pastured meat poultry throughout the summertime. While we may get 2 or more batches of meat chickens produced in the summer, the pastured turkeys grow much slower before producing the perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece. Locally sourced heritage breed feeder pigs arrive in the springtime and we raise them in their wooded pastures to market weight for fall harvest. All of our animals follow an intensive rotational grazing system to simulate natural disturbance cycles.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

We sell direct to customers. Our end consumers may be someone we know, someone who found us online, or from within our very own family. This ensures everything we produce is raised with the utmost care, and to the highest standard. The same food that goes into our own freezer and fuels our family is offered to our customers.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

The diversification of animals is something we are proud of, and allows us to have a more balanced disturbance on the land that regenerates the growth cycle. Our commitment to a regenerative, natural approach led us to the Water Quality Certification program. We became the first Water Quality Certified farm in the county earlier this summer (also one of the first in the area). We are very proud of raising our family with the experience and knowledge that comes from the failures and successes of raising all of the animals we do on the farm. We are simply proud to have the opportunity to live on a family farm that raises bison, and we are proud of what the animal represents, as well as what it can do for nature, if given the proper chance.

We are proud of the fact that we are not only the largest bison producer in Brown County, but also one of the largest in the south central MN area. Being in the midst of my second term as Region C director of the Minnesota Buffalo Association, it is a privilege to have an active presence within such a knowledgeable and positive organization.

 

Bison

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

We decided to raise bison because of its combination of aesthetic appeal, healthy meat, and low maintenance needs. First off, bison always peaked our interest in our school lessons. There was just something about them. The way they look, the way they act and demand respect, the freedom they represent, their fearlessness, agility, size, ability to fend for themselves, uncanny conservation ability, and the many uses for their byproducts, all pointed to the fact that bison are very special. The buffalo represents something special, something “out of the norm” for our neck of the woods, and I think the idea of forging our own path with something “new” appealed to us.

The second factor in our decision was the fact that we can’t choose our genetics. We figured there was no better way to counter future health concerns than with America’s original red meat, a heart healthy meat endorsed by the American Heart Association.

Finally, our bison are extremely resilient and a low maintenance animal. The notion that we were not restricted or bound to the farm to take care of them during a storm was a definite plus. It is a concern to be properly fenced, especially with a smaller area, but as long as the herd is happy, there is little reason to fret. We can literally put out enough hay for a week, and as long as their water is ok, we could go away for a nice break.

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

Oh my gosh, this is so hard to answer. They are such an interesting animal, where do I start? Bison are native to North America, and are America’s original red meat. For thousands of years, bison were the kingpin in a stable diet and a stable ecosystem. Low in fat, high in protein, and naturally low in cholesterol (just to name a few of the many benefits)…simply put it is an extremely nutrient dense meat that tastes really good (no gamey taste).

Every farm around here is still benefitting from the vast fertility established by the grazing herds of old. From an ecosystem perspective, bison are a keystone species. The definition of a keystone species is “a species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change dramatically.” That description could not fit any other animal as well as it fits the bison in North America.

Bison

 

What is a most embarrassing moment you have had on the farm?

 

The most embarrassing moment on the farm occurred when we had just finished cross fencing and turned the herd out onto a lush paddock, only to forget to close a gate. The following morning at 5:45 AM, the herd checked on me at morning chore time, just as they always did, only to find there was a new territory to explore. After discovering this, I woke up my wife and we caught up with the herd a couple miles down the road. It took them about 15 minutes to catch their breath and their bearings. Over the next 40 minutes, I proceeded to lead them back home with a couple of pails of treats. I had to call in the local law enforcement (who I am friends with) because of morning traffic commuting concerns on our county road. Even though the event was pretty well “uneventful,” I was constantly reminded of the event for quite some time.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

I love being with the animals and getting to know each of them. I love seeing the animals flourish day to day – growing, playing, and interacting within their environment. The bison are agile, majestic, and inspiring and all have unique personalities. When they are happy and healthy, you are happy, and your family is secure. That is a good feeling for me.

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

With the taste and the incredible story of the bison species, we open our farm to tours. People love getting a chance to interact with the herd, and it is always a joy when kids and adults alike feed the animals (especially the bison). We have found there is a lot of value in interacting with your food, understanding the value of that food, what it takes to produce it, as well as what kind of sacrifice is required to balance a healthy food system. We believe in integrity food, so anyone can come to the farm (preferably by appointment) and ask any question and see anything that they want in relation to our animals, and how and why we raise them the way we do. That is our commitment to our customer base

[Chapter 14
Kroll Family Farm]

Kroll Farm are from Long Prairie. The Krolls are a fifth generation farm and an organic dairy farm. In addition to dairy, they also plant garlic and produce maple syrup. I must say, they have a very interesting story!

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We are a certified organic dairy farm with a small herd of 30 cows. We are the fifth generation of this family farm started by my husband’s, Hans, great great grandfather in the late 1880’s. Because we weren’t interested in chasing money or numbers, we farmed simply and without fertilizers or chemicals starting around 2000. Our daughter, Jessica, suggested going organic since we were farming that way anyway, and so in 2005 we did just that. The paperwork isn’t fun, but farming organically has helped us support two families with the 30 cow herd.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

My husband was raised on this dairy farm since childhood and then went off to college in 1972. He returned to the farm in 1982 and has been farming ever since.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

Besides organic milk, we grow organic garlic and produce pure maple syrup. This farm has been producing maple syrup for over 50 years. Most of the sap is collected from our own trees, but we also buy sap from a few local neighbors. Our average production is 500 gallons of syrup a year. Last year was a record breaker at 900 gallons.

We got into garlic about 12 years ago when a friend gave us about 6 bulbs. We planted them and replanted them each year until last year we planted 6400 bulbs. It’s amazing how exponentially quickly they multiply.

 

Kroll family

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Our milk is sold to Horizon Organic and our syrup is sold locally. Our garlic is marketed locally and online and through the online market, Local Harvest from Alexandria.

 

If there is one thing you could change about farming it would be . . .

Not having to milk the cows twice a day every day; on the organic side—less paperwork.

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

We leave our calves on the cows to nurse until they are weaned at 9 weeks old. Because of this, they are the biggest, happiest and healthiest calves we have ever seen. We never have to call the vet out for scours or anything. It is enjoyable to watch them play in the pasture together like kids. Most farmers pen each calf in a separate hut and feed them milk replacer. We like the natural side of things.

 

Cows

 

What is a most embarrassing moment you have had on the farm?

 

One day I was suppose to pick up the bales while my husband was baling. The tractor needed fuel so I filled up our diesel tractor-- with gas. When I got out on the field to pick up bales, it started to die. When I went to tell my husband, I realized I better take care of this myself and take the stress off of him. So I called our son-in-law and he came and drained the tank of fuel onto the ground and filled it back up with diesel. Luckily, nothing was damaged… and our marriage saved.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

What we love most about farming is raising our children on a farm where they can learn from nature and play in the country; and seeing, living, and working in the beauty of God’s creation every day.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

I would like consumers to know just how much better organic dairy and meat products are than conventional. It’s not just that there are no chemical residues in them, but pastured animals produce up to 4x more vitamin E from always being outside and exposed to the sun. Therefore, there are more natural vitamins in these dairy products and meat; and the amount of omega-3 (good) fatty acids in these organic products are tremendously higher than conventional products because of the lower amounts of grain fed to the animals.

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

We are putting up some used solar voltaic panels this winter and plan to add to them so we can possibly run our whole farm on our own electricity.

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

We couldn’t farm without you.

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

We can grow great apples here in Minnesota; better than those boring Red Delicious ones grown in Washington.

 

Maple Syrup

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

We have a lot of water and a lot of fish. We can go fishing almost anywhere.

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

Our farm, of course!

 

What is one ag-related place in Minnesota that others need to know about. What is one non-ag related place in Minnesota that others need to know about and why?

 

La Ferme is a local restaurant in Alexandria owned and operated by chef Matthew Jensen. He buys and serves as much organic and locally grown and produced food as he can.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

My husband is a man who likes to farm the ground and fix equipment, but hates milking cows. Before our son-in-law started milking our cows last year, he said, “If you don’t help milk the cows, I’m selling them.” From the day I got married, his mom told me, “never milk a cow or you’ll be milking them all the time.” This was from someone who was told the same thing by her mother-in-law. At age 60, what did I have to lose—so I helped him milk the cows. Thank goodness it was only for a year and a half.

 

[Chapter 15
Dylan Thisius]

Dylan Thisius is from Wells, which is located in south central Minnesota. Dylan is a young, beginning farmer working into his family’s farming business.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

I have been farming full-time since 2012 after I went to college at South Dakota State, but have been involved in the farming lifestyle since I was born. I work with my dad, Dan, on a day to day basis taking care of our livestock. We have about 500 head of dairy steers and roughly 2,300 pigs. I also am involved with our crop operation which includes my grandpa and my dad’s uncle. We run about 1500 acres of corn, beans and sweet corn. My main jobs are feeding and monitoring the pigs, and bottle feeding the calves we get from a local dairy farm. As for the crops, I have started to plant and help pick out which seed variety goes on which field. In the fall I help get the combine ready, run grain cart and run our drying system.

 

Dylan and Kristeena

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Our farm keeps a large amount of the corn as a feed source for the cattle and pigs, the rest of the corn and our beans are sold to local elevators. We generally have about 80-100 of acres of sweet corn that goes to a local canning factory. As far as livestock, our pigs and cattle are sold for meat that will eventually find its way to a grocery store.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

I am proud that I get to farm and work with my family every day. As a young beginning farmer, there are so many things that happen on a daily basis that may be new or different, and it’s always great to have your family to look to or lean on for support and advice. Growing up in a farming family, I always saw my dad and grandpa working, and now that I am involved, I appreciate all the sacrifices they have made and the time that was put in. I look forward to continuing our family’s legacy with helpful advice from the past.

 

Thisius farm

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

The decision to have corn, soybeans and pigs was made well before I was alive. The farm decided to get into dairy steers after I came back from college as a way to keep me busy. Oddly enough, my dad is the one who took on the cattle and I shifted my focus on care for the pigs. We are diversified to try and minimize the risk of low markets and so not all of our “eggs” are in one basket.

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

Along with our livestock, we have always had a variety of other animals around. From the typical dogs, cats and chickens, I grew up with goats, llamas, peacocks, emus, guinea pigs, snakes, geckos, chinchillas and probably a few others I am forgetting. My love for animals has grown over a wide range.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

I wish consumers knew the passion and commitment that it takes to farm. Whether something negative is being said about farmers, farming or agriculture, or if you are losing money, you still have to get up every day and take care of your farm.

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

We take pride in raising healthy livestock, producing safe food, while being sustainable and efficient. The technology we have today is allowing us to move toward being more efficient, while finding new and better ways of doing things. This includes auto steer on tractors for precise planting, new seed varieties for fighting off disease and pests, and the continued research on producing better, quality livestock.

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

High health insurance premiums. Kidding. Well, kind of.

 

[Chapter 16
Wayne and Abbie Saemrow]

Wayne and Abbie Saemrow are from Waterville. The Saemrows are involved in a 700 cow dairy who sells their milk to Land O Lakes. And as I have said previously,

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We are a four brother partnership with three generations active in our 700 cow dairy. We employ 17 full/part time people. They include a few family members such as myself, Abbie, a few nephews, the brothers and their mother whom is 89 years of age!! We raise all of our own young stock, so from baby calves all the way to springing heifers, and milking cows. We also grow a feeder steer to about 400-600 pounds. We also run about 2000 acres to compliment the dairy’s need for feed and manure management. We grow corn, alfalfa, soybeans, small grains, and a many different grasses all for use in the dairy or as a cash crop.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

Wayne grew up on this farm and milked 40 cows with his family. Then in 1994 the brothers expanded Saemrow Dairy into a 400 cows to later expand again in 99 to our current number. I myself started at Saemrow dairy as a part time employee milking cows on the weekends while I was working on a degree in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I will be going on my 13th year after the week of the election!! My responsibilities are managing dry cows, heifer vaccinations, sick cows, fresh cows, breeding programs, and whatever else is needed to be done with cows.

 

Abbie

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

I think what makes Saemrow Dairy unique or special is the people. The fact that three generations and four brothers are working together on the farm along with their 89-year-old mother, Marion is special. Marian helps out everyday twice a day with feeding calves holding bottles with new calves and washing bottles. Another point of interest is our long-term employees. We have a few really great people who have been with us for 15 plus years. I feel that something special is Wayne and I working on the dairy together. We really have a passion for cattle and taking care of them.

We are proud of our cattle and the work from everyone that help us have great looking cattle. We love to hear from professionals in the dairy industry that you have wonderful looking cattle!!! Wayne and I are also proud that we can work together and still be married!!!

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

We produce milk that goes to a co-op named Land O Lakes. Our milk is sold for primarily for bottling. We raise mainly Holstein heifers with a few exceptions for the fair which include a milking shorthorn and a brown swiss!! We also grow many different varieties of corn for corn silage or grain corn along with alfalfa, oats, wheat, grass, and soybeans.

 

If there is one thing you could change about farming it would be . . .

The extreme cyclical changes in the commodity market.

 

Baby calf rescue from a blizzard

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

It would have to be the family and the people!! I don’t believe our farm is really all that interesting!!! I believe that what makes farms interesting is the difference in how people farm compared to yourself!! I can tell you other facts of how we do things differently. We have rotating crop agreements. One year we run corn and the next year the landowner runs soybeans. We have neighbors/landlords help out during harvest. The land we farm on we have a lot of rolling hills and we name every field!!

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

We love all the aspects of a dairy from growing corn to make corn silage to feeding it to the cows to making quality milk to healthy cattle and many other things. You never have a dull moment!!! No day is ever the same. One day you are milking cows, the next you are treating a milk fever, the next you are hauling heifers, or driving truck!! The variety is what makes dairy farming fun!!

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

We have healthy cattle and that we take care of them 365 24/7!! We love being dairy farmers!!

 

Cows

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

We feed our cows through an Omega balanced ration and that balance flows through into the milk.

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

Our end consumer is potentially anyone whom consumes a dairy product. Our milk goes for bottling but we like to think that we represent any product that any dairy farmer has produced and the next dairy farmer represents us as well.

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

What makes MN the place to produce is amply water and fertile land. Those two things make MN a more sustainable ag community. We also have dairy infrastructure for processing.

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

The one thing in is the weather extremes. You can go from hot and humid to cold and windy in hours. We have blizzards, monsoons, heat, cold, etc.

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

Our favorite location is the North Shore of Lake Superior. We love the scenery and the hiking!

 

What is one ag-related place in Minnesota that others need to know about. What is one non-ag related place in Minnesota that others need to know about and why?

 

Ag – Any back road in the Southern MN. I find driving any location away from home is the best ag related place for us! We enjoy the field trip nature of farm country!

Non-Ag place would be any state park in MN. I love the state parks!! Every state park was created for something for the public to enjoy! Minnesota has such different terrain to enjoy and witness!! The state parks have become something like a bucket list for Wayne and I. It is our goal to try to go to every park in the state.

 

[Chapter 17
Steve and Jodi Ohlsen Read]

Steven and Jodi Ohlsen Read own Shepherd’s Way Farms and are from Nerstrand. Nerstrand is located about an hour south of St. Paul.

What I found interesting is their mission statement:

At Shepherd’s Way Farms, we believe there is a way to live that combines hard work, creativity, respect for the land and animals, and a focus on family and friends. We believe the small family-based farm still has a place in our society. Everything we do, everything we make, is in pursuit of this goal.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

“Shepherd’s Way Farms is a small, family-based s

heep dairy located approximately one hour south of Minneapolis/St Paul.”

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

“The farm was established in 1994 as a sheep dairy and we began making cheese in 1998.”

 

Sheep grazing on the pasture

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

“We raise pasture-based sheep and handcraft artisan sheep milk cheeses. We also raise whey-fed pigs and sell specialty meats and wool products (wool-filled comforters, pillows, and mattress toppers).”

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

“Our cheeses are available at co-ops, specialty cheese shops, and grocery stores (Bylerly’s/Lunds, Kowalski’s, HyVee, Jerrys) and restaurants locally and in select national areas. You can find our cheeses, specialty meats and wool products at the Mill City Farmers Market and St Paul Farmers market. We also have a cheese CSA for Minneapolis, St. Paul and Northfield members.”

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

“There are very few sheep dairies that produce their own cheese in the U.S. Our cheese is all made by hand, on the farm (Jodi is the cheesemaker) and many of our cheeses are repeat American Cheese Society award winners.”

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

“We chose to go into farming as a way to combine a focus on family, creativity, hardwork and a love of animals and the environment. We raise dairy sheep because they are beautiful animals that produce lovely, rich milk, have gorgeous wool and are a benefit to the land they graze.”

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

Dairy farming is a 24/7, 365 day a year responsibility with variables that change unpredictably (animals, weather, economic conditions). Farming challenges in new ways over and over, requiring farmers to be innovative, adaptable and deeply dedicated. The costs of a pound of cheese barely reflect a portion of the risk and work farmers take on to produce that milk and cheese.

 

Sheep with shepherd

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

“We are profoundly grateful for our customers and their dedication to our products and farm – we wouldn’t be here without them.”

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

“The range of beauty in our changing seasons deepens the experience of farming. Our winters can be brutal at times but that makes us all the more hardy – and the crisp, clear blue winter days filled with sparkly snow have a beauty that can’t be matched.”

 

[Chapter 18
Luke Daninger]

I met Luke when we were both part of Class VIII of MARL (Minnesota Ag Rural Leadership) program. Luke is a great person and since meeting him I found out that his family owns and operates a dairy farm and a dairy store near Forest Lake. Let me just state that I have added visit Autumnwood Farm to my bucket list! I love dairy products!

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We milk sixty cows on our dairy farm and have a creamery where we process and bottle the milk to wholesale throughout the Twin Cities area. We currently are in about 60 retail stores and coffee shops, along with a store right on the farm as well.

 

Daninger Family

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

Our farm started in 1902 and the creamery started in 2008. I have actively been involved for my whole life.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

We rotationally graze our cattle seasonally and so we have the motto from the “Grass to the Glass”. We also run ground to grow corn silage and alfalfa for feed.

 

On the farm dairy store – “Grass to Glass”

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

We market directly to the end user since we do all of the processing and distribution.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

Due to our proximity to the metro area, we have been feeling pressure from development for several years now. Back in 2008, my parents decided to turn that from a disadvantage to an advantage and put up the creamery because there is a market for the product right in our back door. Currently we have a store on the farm, plus we are in about 60 retail grocery stores and coffee shops throughout the Twin Cities. We also host a lot of groups from an educational experience to let them experience where their milk comes from and how it gets to their table.

 

The barn crew

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

We started the creamery because it provides a steadier source of income than what just milking cows does currently. In the past, it seemed like you could make having a smaller dairy farm work but now you have to be more diversified.

 

If there is one thing you could change about farming it would be . . .

I would say it would be to allow for more breaks away from the farm. Our goal is to become more efficient to allow for this into the future.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

I love the fact that you get to work with family and you must be a team to succeed. I really enjoy that aspect of farming.

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

Our customers tend to be people who care about knowing where their milk comes from and want to buy it from a local provider.

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

They are missing out on the great diversity of seasons that we have with each one being very distinct.

 

[Chapter 19
Jason and Jennifer Kirchner]

Stonegate Orchard is owned and operated by Jason and Jennifer Kirchner. The Kirchners are a young family and are from Slayton. All of their family is involved in working at the orchard—even the kids!

Minnesota is a great place to grow apples thanks to the research done at the University of Minnesota. I personally love apple orchards and I am putting on my bucket list to visit (and probably buy!) the Stonegate Orchard.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We own 15 acres of land with 1,900 apple trees on it. There are 16 different varieties of apples we grow and offer. We also have a store where we sell local items besides our apples like honey from local bee keepers, apple pie and caramel apples made with our apples at our local bakery in Slayton, coffee from Left Bank Cafe, art work from local artists, squash and pumpkins grown from a local farmer, jellies, jams and butters, and home decor rustic items.

 

Kirchner Family – Stonegate Orchard

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

This is our third season—second owning the business and land.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We have an Orchard and grow apples. We have 16 different varieties: Zestar, SweeTango, Red Baron, Cortland, Wealthy, Honeycrisp, Sweet Sixteen, Snow Sweet, Regent, Red Regent, Honeygold, Haralson, Red Haralson, Chestnut Crab, Fireside, and Connell Red.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

We sell directly to consumers at our Orchard. We have a nice country store with pre-bagged apples or consumers can go out into the Orchard and pick their own apples. We also ship pre-bagged apples to local grocery stores, and send bushels to local schools. At the Orchard every year we give school tours to pre-k through 1st grade students. This past year we had around 300 students visit.

 

Apples

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

We really had a desire to make this adventure a family one. We knew nothing about apples before becoming Orchard owners so it has been a learning process for all of us. The Apple season is at its max in the fall during harvest but all year long there are so many different jobs. That variety brings excitement and like a roller coaster some hard times and some easy times.

Ultimately it is a family business where we can all be together and work together and enjoy the end result together… which is mostly apple pie.

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

“Both Jason and I have full time jobs on top of running our Orchard so all year round but especially during harvest our kids help with just about every job. They wake up with us at 5am to make apple deliveries to the schools or stores before our full time jobs start. They sit in the store during the weekends and help customers check out and carry items to their cars. They even help pick apples during the harvest. They would say the worst is picking up sticks after pruning in February/March. It’s hard work but we cherish these moments with them.”

 

Apples

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

Minnesota has the best apples. The University of Minnesota has created some amazing varieties that we have the privilege of growing. Other apples don’t even compare to the flavor of MN grown!

 

[Chapter 20
Tony Kornder]

Tony Kornder is from Belle Plaine. They sell beef and pumpkins. Quite the combination, but it works great for them. I am just going to start with “I love this story!” The Kornder’s truly have their heart and soul in their farming business. Hope you enjoy their story!

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

Our family farm consists of about 450 acres of owned and rented land. We raise corn, soybeans, rye, pumpkins, and beef cattle. We sell world class pumpkins to area orchards and garden centers. We also market our beef to restaurants and directly to the consumers at farmers markets and on farm visits.

 

Kornder family in the field

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

I was born into farming, as were my father and grandfather. I enjoy genealogy, and have traced our farming roots back 8 generations to Schillingsfurst Germany. My family was a charter member of the St. Paul Farmers Market when it was established and continued selling produce there until 2009. I started direct marketing beef in 2010 as a way to add value to the operation, as the produce part of the business faded out.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We sell our world class pumpkins and other fall décor to area apple orchards and garden centers. We also have a small U Pick operation on the farm. Area residents really enjoy it, even with all of the pumpkin options available on the Hwy 169 corridor between Belle Plaine and Jordan. We also sell steaks, burgers, ground beef and beef sticks to Café Carlson in Minnetonka, Jims Apple Barn, and MN Harvest Orchard. We also attend several farmers markets and craft shows to sell directly to consumers. We even do special cut orders, like our famous 2” thick cowboy Ribeye.

 

Beef steak

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

Our pumpkins stand out. We raise pumpkins that are big. Big, hefty thick stems, solid walls. We plant a little more each year because people have come to expect that quality of pumpkin at our outlets. When the phone rings for an order, it’s always “I need some more of those big handle ones!”

I am especially proud of the beef products I produce. I really enjoy the compliments and the conversation with customers about the marbling in the steaks, the heat in the Habenaro beef sticks, or the juicy perfection of a grilled burger. One customer of mine used to regularly dine at Manny’s Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis. Not anymore, he tried a custom cut 2” Cowboy Ribeye and hasn’t been back to Manny’s since.

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

We found a niche with the pumpkins. Location was a big factor. We are less than 1 mile from Mn Harvest Orchard, our biggest client. Our soil type also played a role. We farm mostly sandy soils, and 140-bushel corn is a pretty good year. We find ways to make the most of what we have. Raising cattle and direct marketing beef is a way to maximize the value of a great product. I found a way to add value to work we were already doing, without adding a lot of extra labor.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

I really love the work. I am happiest out on the tractor. Working alongside my dad, and now with my own kids, it just doesn’t get any better. I really don’t consider it work. How’s that old saying go? “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

 

Pumpkins

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

Farming is a business. Yes, it provides a great life, a great place to raise a family and all of the “Green Acres and Mayberry” ideals. But the bottom line is it is a business. It’s hard. It is not for the weak. There are so many factors that are simply out of your control. It takes a lot of water, sunshine, good soil and hard work to raise a crop, but the number one ingredient is faith.

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

Anyone can be my customer. If you love a great steak, look me up. I am working to create a website that will accommodate on line ordering and shipping. There are a few things that need to be worked out yet, but I really think that is a great way to broaden my customer base, and keep in contact with current customers.

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

There is a great locally grown movement here. The MN Grown program is fantastic.

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

Our farm. Home is where your heart is.

 

[Chapter 21
Rachael Korman]

 

Rachael Korman and her husband and brother-in-law farm together in the Wells/Alden area and own M and M Family Farms. The Kormans are a typical midwestern farm raising crops and pigs.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

The partnership started by raising pigs farrow to finish. We had 500 sows and raised all of the pigs out to market weight. Currently, we buy pigs off of the open market and finish 30000 pigs a year. We run 1060 acres, where we grow corn.

 

Combine

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

The M and M Farms was started in 2004.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

We sell of our market ready pigs to Tyson in Waterloo Iowa. Our consumers are those who buy PORK in the grocery stores and restaurants.

The corn we raise goes back to feed the pigs we raise. All feed is mixed on our farm and then fed to the pigs.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

We are a family operation that is conscious about hiring local people and doing our business with other local businesses.

 

Pigs

 

If there is one thing you could change about farming it would be . . .

I would love to see farming go back to the simple ways of the past. Every farmer had a few hundred acres and a little livestock. An operation could make it only having a little! I would also change it so that young people who had an interest in farming could get started on their own. Today, it is hard for those who do not have family backing or a family operation to even start thinking about making a career out of farming.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

Our family works hard to produce quality food for other people and their families. We work to ensure excellent animal health and take care of the land the best that we can all year around.

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

We own all the pigs we raise.

 

Harvest

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

A cornfield during harvest. Watching our boys enjoy and learn all the life lessons that go along with farm life.

 

[Chapter 22
Glacial Ridge Winery]

Glacial Ridge Winery is from Spicer. Now I am not a wine drinker – I can barely drink communion wine, but after reading about Glacial Ridge Winery that may change! They have a very fun story. Please be sure to read this to the end.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We are a farm winery creating wines from grapes and apples. We have a tasting bar where we sell wine by the bottle, glass and tasting flights. We also have a gift shop. Included on our property is a rustic event center where we host weddings, concerts and other events. We also sell apples.

 

The Wothes

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

We have been in the orchard business for 14 years and the winery business for 9.5 years.

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

We grow 12 varieties of apples including the popular Honeycrisp, Haralson and Zestor. We sell fresh apples, caramel apples and apple wine. We also produce wine from grapes provided by Minnesota and California growers.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

At our location and wholesale in Minnesota.

 

Wine bottles

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

Our wines are tasty, our staff is happy and our place is comfy. We are proud of the wonderful following of our summer concert series.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

We created this business, built it up and people tell us how much they love it here and love our wines.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

How much work it is.

 

Glacial Ridge Winery Store

 

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

All the varieties of grapes and apples created by the University of Minnesota.

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

How beautiful the lakes area really is.

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

Duluth – Canal Park

 

What is one ag-related place in Minnesota that others need to know about. What is one non-ag related place in Minnesota that others need to know about and why?

 

Redhead Creamery in Brooten.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

We appreciate all of our customers and we have a great staff. Without these, we wouldn’t be what we are today. Our wines are handcrafted, award winning wines made right here at our winery.

Also . . .

Our Bastard wine series is going to be in the movies and on tv. We’re hoping it made the cut for the move LaLa Land coming out in December starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. We were scanned, but we don’t know if our scenes were cut out or not until it premiers. We’re anxiously waiting to see the movie and find out. If we made it, we’re going to have a Gala to celebrate.

Our Bastard series is Handsome Bastard, Zinful Bastard and Lucky Bastard wines. We’re also slotted to be in Grey’s Anatomy’s next season. And hopefully more to come.

We think this is exciting and fun! We were chosen when they were filming the Woody Harrelson movie Wilson in Minneapolis and wanted a Minnesota winery wine in some of their wine scenes. They liked our label and a product placement company contacted us to see if we wanted to participate. Working with this company, we will have our wines in other movies and tv shows as well.

At our annual Grape Stomp our signature wine labels come alive and we introduce them on stage – one of these pictures shows all our Winery Gals and Guys. It’s a really fun day! I also included twin gals stomping – they were so cute!!!

We also offer Home Winemaking – people can come to our place and make their own wine. We help them through the process and let them use our equipment. This is with concentrated grape juice kits that they can purchase through us in all varieties of wine choices.

 

[Chapter 23
Doug and Lois Hoffbauer]

Doug and Lois Hoffbauer, or better known as ‘Farmer Doug” live near Duluth. (By the way, Duluth is absolutely one of my favorite places in Minnesota!) Doug is also a MARL (Minnesota Ag Rural Leadership) alumni. We visited his farm during one of our MARL meetings and I can tell you his farm is truly a family affair. Many of the family members are directly involved in caring for the farm. In the summer Farmer Doug sells produce and flowers at the local Duluth Farmers Market and in the late fall/early winter, he sells Christmas trees. Hope you enjoy his story!

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

We purchased the land for our Christmas tree farm in 1986 and immediately began planting trees for the purpose of Christmas trees. We began a cut-your-own in 1993, and in 1997-2001 son Derek went to Crookston for college and hockey and began selling trees in Grand Forks. We began wreath production at that time, following many years of small family production. In 2001 we began our first retail lot in Superior, Wisconsin. We opened a second site in 2004 at Duluth Farmer’s Market.

We currently market at both locations. We plant about 3500 seedlings annually and currently have about 40 acres in trees. In 1994 our son Derek, began a website www.balsamwreath.com and that has developed into a mail-order Christmas wreath business that employs 6 people from mid-October through mid-December. We also market wreaths at our two tree lots and have a few fundraiser accounts. Our second son, Jesse balls and burlaps about 200 trees annually for landscaping purposes.

 

Hoffbauer family

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

After graduating from U of M (forestry) in 1976 we purchased our first farm which is currently growing about 10 acres in vegetables and cut flowers. We currently have 5 high tunnel/greenhouses used for tomatoes and flowers (this is Duluth).

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

We sell trees and wreaths retail at the two locations, mail-order trees, wreaths and other Christmas decorations. For summer produce, we attend 5 farmer’s markets weekly, and service several restaurants, flower shops, and grocery stores, primarily with flowers. As shown, with Direct-marketing, most of our products are sold directly to the end consumer.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

Being successful in Duluth area has its own challenges: weather, poor soils, lack of infrastructure/suppliers. To become successful has had many challenges and many rewards. There is not much competition in the Duluth area for what we do, which has allowed us to venture into many areas successfully. The recent surge in popularity of local grown/food has contributed greatly to recent growth, which has allowed us to bring our sons and their families into the business, each with their own niche.

 

Doug Hoffbauer

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

Being limited by climate and soils, our options were limited. Trees have always been my passion. The veggies started as a 5-10 year plan while we waited for trees to mature. 40 years later we are still growing produce. The transition into cut flowers started a few years ago, as our son and his family showed interest in it.

 

If there is one thing you could change about farming it would be . . .

Choose a farm with better soil…less rocks. I have been fighting rocks for 40 years, and I don’t think I am winning.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

Beating the odds, and producing quality products for the local area. Many customers have become friends over the years and support us energetically. Being a respected and appreciated member of the community means a lot.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

After 40 years of direct marketing, our lifelong customers know a lot about us already.

 

Christmas trees

What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?

 

The connection I made during the MARL program in been invaluable. With the demise of the extension programs, these connections have become my go to for advice…i.e. new trends on weed control etc. Minnesota has a very diverse Ag industry, and it is quickly adaptable, to fill the needs of consumers.

 

What is one thing about Minnesota that people from other areas do not know about or are missing because they don’t live here?

 

The diverse landscape, and that all Minnesotans are only a few hours form a lot of different geography and scenery.

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

Where I live.

 

 

[Chapter 24
Ammann Family Farms]

The Ammanns are David, Michele, Haley, Hayden, Hannah and Melva Amman. The Ammanns are located in Ormsby and raise cattle along with growing crops. Perhaps what makes them unique and special is they are a century farm. It’s hard to fathom that a farm can be in your family for 100 years, but the Ammanns are an example of how deep farming is in their family roots.

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

David and his father were partners when it used to be Ammann Limousin cow/calf and now David and his family have beef commercial cattle, raising roughly 40 head. We calf in the Spring and then pasture graze during the Summer and bring cattle back home to the farm late fall time.

 

Cattle

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

It is a century family farm; it’s from David’s side of the family. His great-grandparents lived there, then grandparents, and now his Mother lives there. It used to be a feedlot when David was younger. He then became partners with his father raising the cow/calf herd, so it has been in the family for quite some time!

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

Aside from the beef cattle, David also produces crops and we have some grass pasture. After our calves have been taken off the pasture, grain fed, as well as weaned and vaccinated, we sell them in the late fall to be finished out to fat cattle.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

Our services go to local or state farmers who are looking to buy the feeder calves then finish feeding them to their end weight. We like to see the calves go local so that we can stay in touch with that grower and see how our calves do through the rest of their life cycle.

 

Beef cattle

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

“For many, Farming is a labor of love, not a living.”

We love raising cattle and being involved within the agriculture industry. It’s the networking that is amazing because everywhere you go someone has their own story, just like us. We love to interact with other farmers and get new ideas of how to run certain parts of our operation, to see what did and didn’t work for other growers, and how can we add that to our own farm.

We don’t stay up till 11 PM watching our barn camera to see if a cow has calved yet for nothing. We do it because we care. We love what we do, even on the days when it isn’t going the way we planned.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

We aren’t here working against you, we are here working FOR you. We want to see consumers purchase and enjoy our meat. That’s why we go above and beyond to make sure we provide great quality cattle so that you don’t have to worry about what you’re eating.

You can’t believe everything you read, so be careful what social media sites you find and do your real research. A farmer prides themselves in their crops and livestock so don’t believe for one second we don’t care; it’s our job to care.

 

Beef cattle

 

What is your favorite Minnesota location?

 

The Minnesota State Fair. My dad and his sisters/parents shared experiences together showing their livestock up there, and to be able to continue doing that with my siblings, cousins, and my parents is amazing. The county and State fairs is where your family becomes stronger. Those fairs will forever impact the life of the 4-Hers!

 

[Chapter 25
Pakou Hang]

I met Pakou through the MARL (Minnesota Ag Rural Leadership) program. Pakou is very kind, smart, articulate and I am so glad I know her. I loved learning about her family and her family's business from her. I remember the conversation I had with her while we stayed in a hostel at the Itasca State Park. We were both learning from each other -- comparing how we each farm and it's challenges.

Pakou lives in Minneapolis, but her parents grow fresh vegetables on the HAFA Farm, a research and incubator farm located at Vermillion Townships, MN.

 

Wang Ger with tomatoes

 

Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?

 

My parents rent 10 acres on the HAFA Farm in Dakota County. The HAFA Farm is managed by the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) which my parents helped found in 2011.

Since 1991, my parents have been selling their fresh produce at the Saint Paul Farmer’ Market. More recently, they have also been directing some production to the HAFA Food Hub which aggregates their produce with many other Hmong farmers’ produce and sells those vegetables to local schools, hospitals, colleges, retailers and wholesalers.

 

How long have you farmed or been in business?

 

My parents have been engaged in the agricultural industry since I was in elementary school. First they picked cucumbers for pickle companies and then when I was in middle school, they began to rent land and grow fresh vegetables for the farmers markets. That was over 30 years ago.

 

HAFA Farm

 

Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.

 

My parents plant over 40 different types of vegetables. They grow staples like sweet corn to beefsteak tomatoes and Red and Yukon potatoes. But they also grow specialty items like lemon grass, ground cherries, and purple sweet potatoes.

 

Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?

 

My parents and I sell our fresh produce at local farmers markets and through the HAFA Food Hub. Most often, our end customers are people who care about local foods and sustainable agricultural practices.

 

What makes your farm/business unique or special? What are you proud of?

 

I am proud that our family (all the kids, the grandkids and my parents) are still able to come together every Saturday and Sunday in the summertime to sell our vegetables at the farmers markets. In that way, we are truly showing the grandkids and others what it really means to be a family: hard work, commitment and love.

 

Janssen with brussels

 

Why do you grow/raise/produce? What went into your decision to do what you do?

 

My mother and father (Phoua Thao Hang and Wang Ger Hang respectively) of the Hmong America Farmers Association decided to work in the agricultural industry, first picking cucumbers for pickle companies and then growing vegetables for the farmers markets because they wanted a better life for their seven children.

My mom was 19 years and my dad 21 when they fled persecution in Laos and immigrated to the United States in 1976. They came to the U.S. as political refugees with my older sister who was only three years old and with me who was only 15 days old. We first settled with our sponsor in Savanah, Georgia; then moved to be with my maternal grandparents in Providence Rhode Island. We soon moved to Appleton, Wisconsin to be near some paternal cousins and then to Saint Paul, Minnesota to open a Chinese restaurant.

My parents did not speak any English when they arrived in the U.S. and over the years they earned barely enough from their factory jobs to pay for rent and food let alone raise and uplift their seven children. So they started farming in addition to working their full time jobs to earn enough money to send their children to parochial and private schools. They truly believed that the key to success was a good education.

As a result of their commitment and hard work, all seven of their children have graduated from high school, six from college, and five from graduate schools. Their children have attended the Ivy Leagues (Yale University, Brown University, and University of Pennsylvania); given commencement speeches at Georgetown University; and been featured in the Boston Globe for winning the Martin Luther King Jr. full scholarship to attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

My parents did not care that they never wore brand new shoes or clothes or drove nice cars. They just worked hard and sacrificed all for their kids to one day have a better life.

If there is one thing you could change about farming it would be . . .

 

That it wasn’t so physically taxing.

 

What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.

 

My parents grow over 40 different varieties of produce on 10 acres.

 

What do you love most about farming/business?

 

When we were growing up, my mother loaded up all the kids every day and drove us to the garden to harvest vegetables for the farmers markets. As we picked string beans, she would tell us old Hmong folktales or we would sing church songs and be in awe at how many shades of green there were in nature. We share cooked rice and broiled meat for lunch and cut up freshly picked cucumbers to quench our thirst.

After working a 10-hour day, my dad would join us at the Hmong America Farmers Association garden and we would all continue harvesting until the sunset and we couldn’t see what was in front of us. But the chirping of the crickets and the light from the fireflies would guide us through the rows as we picked up and carried the buckets of beans and new potatoes to the van to take home to rinse and package before going to sleep. Those nights when my parents and my siblings and I all wearily drove home after a back-breaking day, those nights were magical.

 

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?

 

I wish our customers truly understood how much work it takes to grow our produce.

 

What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?

 

We often do not even eat the fresh produce we grow because we are just so tired at the end of the day to cook the fresh food.

 

Who are your customers? Or what would you like to tell your customers?

 

Be kind and support a local family farmer.

About the Author

Wanda Patsche is the author of Minnesota Farm Living. She is a city girl turned farm girl. Together with her husband, Chuck, they farm corn and soybeans as well as hogs. Wanda has a passion for agriculture and uses her passion in volunteering for many ag-related organizations and activities.

 

She is a current member of the Minnesota Pork Board, a past participant of MARL (Minnesota Ag Rural Leadership), a volunteer for CommonGround, Martin County Corn and Soybean board, Farm Bureau’s Speak for Yourself, National Pork Board’s Operation Mainstreet and a Women in Ag AgStar blogger. Their family was name the 2012 Pork Farm Family of the Year and Wanda was recognized as the Minnesota Pork Promoter of the Year in 2015 and a Minnesota Farm Family of the Year in 2016. In addition, she takes her passion for ag a step further by using social media to reach out to consumers across the U.S. and the world.

 

Connect with Wanda Patsche

I really appreciate you reading my book! I would love to connect with you. Here are my social media coordinates:

 

Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/minnesotafarmer

Follow me on Twitter http://: http://www.twitter.com/mnfarmliving

Follow me on Instagram http://www.instagram/mnfarmliving

Visit my website http://: http://www.mnfarmliving.com

 


Real Stories from Real Minnesota Farm Families

A book that shares the real farm stories from featured Minnesota farm families. Learn what kind of farm they live on, what their daily farm life is like, what is important to them and what they want you to know about them and their farm. Each featured farmer shares personal pictures of their farm. There are 25 diversified farmers who share their farming stories. Read about Minnesota Hmong farmers, a cosmetics manufacturer using farm products, organic, sheep, pigs, cattle, dairy, goats, Christmas trees, apple orchards, wineries, and crop farms.

  • ISBN: 9781370053278
  • Author: wpatsche
  • Published: 2017-06-10 22:35:22
  • Words: 19172
Real Stories from Real Minnesota Farm Families Real Stories from Real Minnesota Farm Families