By Starrla Cray
CARVER COUNTY, MN With their intense involvement in dairy promotion efforts, Jerry and Jan Albrecht were a likely pick for Carver County’s 2009 Farm Family of the Year award.
However, the Albrechts, who own a small farm near Watertown, said the recognition was completely unexpected.
“I was shocked,” Jerry said.
Jerry and Jan milk 32 cows and farm 71 acres of crops. They’ve been married for 40 years and have been involved in agriculture all their lives.
“We promote the industry in different ways than most people,” Jan said.
Take, for example, “Albrecht’s Backstage,” which has been an attraction at the Carver County Fair for the past 20 years. Featuring tiny calves, a fish pond, and musical entertainment in a lush, garden setting, the stage draws in people of all ages.
“My goal is to maintain agriculture as an important base here in Carver County,” Jan said.
“I think, right now, we’re the last operating dairy going into the cities,” she added. Because of their proximity to the metro area, the Albrechts are able to share their love of the dairy industry with people who may have little or no exposure to farming.
“I always say, Carver County is where urban meets rural on a friendly basis,” Jan said.
Teaching others about the dairy industry has been an important goal for the Albrechts.
Jerry is involved in the Minnesota Holstein History Committee and Carver County Holstein Club. Jan has been on the Carver County Extension Committee and is active in several organizations in Carver County, including the Holstein Club, dairy day committee, and fair board.
“We also support a number of youth organizations,” Jan said.
The Albrechts often invite children’s groups from the Twin Cities to come out and learn about farming.
“Most of them wouldn’t have an opportunity unless someone gave it to them,” she said. “Our partners in urban communities need to know about food production.”
When the children see the animals, Jan said they are fascinated.
“When they come to the fair and we’re setting up, they ask, ‘Aren’t the calves here yet?’” she said.
The Albrechts teach the children how to put halters on the calves to lead them around.
“Everyone puts their hands on their hips and says, ‘I want to be a farmer,’” Jan laughed.
In addition to their involvement with youth organizations, the Albrechts also enjoy going to dairy shows.
“We like to travel,” Jan said. They have been to shows in Toronto, as well as several throughout the US.
Every year, Jerry also attends the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. Four of Jerry’s brothers have dairy farms, too, and the expo gives them an opportunity to get together.
Hired hand Ken Burdoff, who has been with the Albrechts for 23 years, keeps the farm running smoothly when Jerry and Jan are away.
“We always have help,” Jan said.