Farm Horizons, November 2008

Area Farm Families of the Year

Jennifer Bakken
Staff Writer

Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

Several local families received honors during the 2008 Farm Family Recognition Program in August at Farmfest.

The program has existed for more than two decades and recognizes farm families from throughout Minnesota for their contributions to the agriculture industry and their local communities. All of the chosen farm families have made significant contributions to Minnesota agriculture and their communities.

Wright County Farm Family of the Year

Greg and Mary Reynolds purchased their vegetable operation in 1992. Located just west of Delano, they have been working on crop rotations that improve yield, soil fertility and quality.

In 1994 the farm was certified organic and their crops are now sold to natural food co-ops and restaurants within the Twin Cities.

The Reynolds believe that sustainability and energy-efficiency in agriculture are very important.

Vegetables are produced on 30 acres that are in a four-year rotation and all of their produce is sold within 50 miles of the farm.

Hennepin County Farm Family of the Year

Located on US Highway 12 just east of Delano, Peterson Produce‘s roadside vegetable stand offers a wide variety of vegetables, bedding plants, maple syrup and pumpkins.

Having been in operation for more than 100 years, they are a “Century Farm,” and more than 110 local children have worked the land along side the Peterson Family.

Beginning as a dairy farm, it changed to vegetables 25 years ago. The family lives on the farm and considers it their livelihood.

“We practice sustainable farming, which means being environmentally responsible, financially successful, and community oriented,” said Al Sterner. “It’s good for us, the land, and the community.”

Farmers and friends

The above-mentioned couples from Wright County and Hennepin County do not consider each other competition but rather, good friends.

“I’ve known the Reynolds for years,” said Al Sterner. “They are very good friends of ours.”

More than 70 families from around the state, one from each participating county, have been named 2008 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.

The families were recognized at a ceremony Aug. 7 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls.

“The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contribution to agriculture and their communities,” said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension. “Farm families are the foundation of Minnesota agriculture and major contributors to the vitality of our communities.”

McLeod County Farm Family of the Year

Located in Glencoe, Rodney Mathews, and Kevin and Tammy Mathews own and operate a dairy, hog, and grain operation that has been in their family since 1909. 

In 1965, the Mathews’ farm was hit by a tornado that destroyed everything but the house.  Since then, the farm has been rebuilt and currently consists of 32 milking Holsteins, farrow-to-finish hogs, and 600 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and wheat.

Kevin and his wife, Tammy, have three children, Megan, Kyle, and Katie, who have been involved with the farm, along with FFA and 4-H.  Megan, who is a fourth-year animal science and pre-veterinary medicine student at South Dakota State University, was a 2007 Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalist. 

Tammy has been involved with the McLeod County American Dairy Association Princess Committee, as well as the Helen Township Board.  Rodney is also on the Helen Township Board and involved with Sno-Pros.

Meeker County Farm Family of the Year

Roger and Janet Huhn of Litchfield began crop farming in 1977, with a rented 50-acre piece of ground. Since then, the farm has increased in size and management. Their two daughters, Heather and Rachel, have helped throughout the years on the farm. 

Today, their sons, Ashley and Anthony, along with their families, assist in this 2,000-acre corn, soybean, and wheat operation. Ashley’s wife, Tracy, is the ag instructor and FFA advisor for Eden Valley-Watkins High School. 

On this multi-crop farm, they do all of their own planting, spraying, cultivating, combining, and equipment repairs. They also irrigate nearly one-third of their acres.

The entire Huhn family belongs to St. Philip’s Catholic Church, where they are active in various committees. They are also active in the Minnesota Corn and Soybean Growers associations, MN Irrigators, and Heartland Corn Products.

Carver County Farm Family of the Year

The Mike and Carole Pierson farm is located in Watertown, and began as a partnership with Carole’s father in 1975. The farm then included 50 laying hens, cows, multiple crops, and later, swine.

In 1992, the farm moved away from the hog operation and focused on its dairy enterprise by adding a four-step up flat parlor. Today, the farm has seen a large expansion since its beginnings, with much of its success coming from the family-oriented atmosphere on the Pierson farm.

Through the recovering stages of Mike’s heart attack seven years ago, the Pierson children’s help became critical to the farm’s prosperity.

Off the farm, Carole works full time for the Farm Service Agency, and sings in the church choir. Mike is an avid fisherman and hunter, and active in the American Legion Post 357. Both are heavily involved in the local and regional FFA, and 4-H committees, and are active alumni of the Watertown-Mayer FFA.

Sibley County Farm Family of the Year

David and Mary Ann Tesches have lived on their farm since 1969. Through that time, their operation has focused on finishing Holstein steers, and raising corn and soybeans. Up until 1998, the Tesches also did farrowing, but when their two sons built finishing barns, they decided to drop their hog operation, and focus mainly on raising crops and steers.

By living within two miles of the farm, David and Mary Ann’s sons, Chris and Jeremy, have had a hand in the success of the operation and are able to share equipment. Mary Ann has been a big help by being the chief cook, “go-pher,” and bale mover. She is now employed as a child support officer for Sibley County, and David is involved with Henderson Heritage Days, and their church. The couple is active in church committees, and singing in the choir. They have been married 43 years in September.

These profiles of the 2008 honorees can be found on the University’s farm family web site, http://mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu, where a complete listing for families across the state can be found.

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