MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL, Minn. - Seventy-five families from around the state, one from each participating county, have been named a 2011 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.
The families will be officially recognized in a ceremony Aug. 4 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minn. Profiles of the 2011 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the the University's farm family website at http://mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu.
These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota's economy and the vitality of Minnesota's rural communities, said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension. The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.
Families receiving honors were selected by their local county Extension committees and have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture and agricultural production.
Farmfest runs Aug. 2-4 at the Gilfillan Estate, near Redwood Falls, Minn. Event hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 2 and 3, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 4. Admission is $10 per person, and those 18 and under are admitted free. More information on Farmfest is available at http://www.farmshows.com/ffst
The diversity of Minnesota family farms can be seen by looking at a sample of the 2011 honorees:
Peterson Family of Clay County
The Peterson farm has undergone many changes over the years. Today, the farm produces sugar beets, wheat, barley, soybeans and grain corn. Sherwood and Marilynn Peterson have three sons who help as machine operators, repair men, planters, harvesters, deliverers and more.
Sever Peterson Farm and Corn Maze of Hennepin County
The Sever Peterson Farm in Eden Prairie was established by Sever's grandfather in the late 1880s. Today the farm has roadside stands, crops, a corn maze and 17 vegetable stands across the western Minneapolis suburbs. They also have corn and soybean fields. The Peterson corn maze was the first in Minnesota and the second in the U.S. The annual corn maze event includes a pumpkin patch, live music and exotic animals.
Swentik Family of Lake of the Woods County
George and Judith Swentik of Baudette are producers of grass seed, small grains, commercial hay and registered Polled Hereford beef cattle. George also sets aside 40 acres of the farm for a variety of trees, including a fruit orchard to create a habitat for wildlife.
Schwarz Family of LeSueur County
Lone Oak Farm of LeSueur is a fifth-generation diversified family farm dating back to 1875. Today, Greg and Joan Schwarz grow corn and soybeans on about 1000 acres. In addition, they market about 70,000 turkeys annually. Greg's parents are still active in the farm operation, and Greg and Joan's two children also help.
Penner Family of Watonwan County
In 1977, Joel and Bernice Penner built their first finishing barn for 200 head of hogs in Butterfield. Later they added a farrowing and nursery barn, then a gestation barn, and eventually a 600-head finishing barn. Today, Joel and Bernice farm 340 acres and have 120 sows. They also grow corn, soybeans, and some small grains. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Golden Prairie Dairy of Winona County
Jim and Laurie Orth farm 157 acres in Winona. Their dairy herd consists of Jersey, Guernsey, Holsteins and crossbreeds. They have two daughters who help with tasks on the farm.
Here is a complete listing of the 2011 University of Minnesota Farm Family of the Year honorees, by county: