Teaching and farming run in the Holtegaard family.
That’s part of the reason this year’s Olmsted County Country Breakfast on the Farm will take place at Blue Horizon Farm, now operated by Roger and Nathan Holtegaard. The father and son manage an increasing dairy herd, small beef herd and grow crops that help feed their livestock in northeast Rochester.
Activities at the June 22 breakfast, which is sponsored by the Olmsted County Farm Bureau, Olmsted County ADA and Plainview Milk, will include tractor-drawn wagon rides, a petting zoo and agricultural displays and exhibits. Those attending also will be able to watch milking.
A breakfast of pancakes, sausage and cheese will be served with juice, milk and coffee.
This is the second time the family has had the breakfast at its farm. They hosted the annual event in 2006.
A lot has changed in those 13 years, said Melinda Holtegaard, with the public dialogue in ’06 around farming being mostly positive. The conversation has turned darker since then. Depressed grain prices, falling farm income, and dairies going out of business are news headlines.
“We just want people to know there are still dairy farms out there,” said Melinda Holtegaard. “Even in Olmsted County where we don’t have as many as other counties.”
In 1949, Roger’s parents, Ray and Betty, decided to settle on the farmland on the northeastern edge of Rochester.
That same year they purchased the land which had been a farm for years before Minnesota became a state. Like Roger did after his father, Nathan will eventually take over and be the third generation to farm the land.
Many people don’t realize the jobs in the community that dairy farmers help maintain, said Roger Holtegaard.
“If you think down the line, there’s a lot of people (dairy farmers) help give jobs to,” he said.
Veterinarians, implement dealers, milk equipment and milk processing workers, employees at cattle vaccine companies — these are just a few of the industries that rely on dairy farmers for work.
“It does seem like it takes a village, with so many people involved every day,” said Melinda Holtegaard of the industry, as a milk truck pulled in behind her like it was on cue. “It’s a business that’s going on 24 hours a day.”
The couple had five kids who all eventually went away to college, said Melinda, a retired agricultural teacher. Nathan was the only one who decided to keep farming with his dad after he graduated from college.
Nathan, who his mom calls “the brains of the operation,” sees their responsibility as a farm family to educate people on what they do.
“That’s the biggest reason why we’re doing this, for educational purposes,” he said of Breakfast on the Farm.
Nathan’s wife, Katie, is a special education teacher at Plainview-Elgin-Millville schools. He said the teaching experience in their family makes them good hosts for an event like the breakfast.
Melinda said many of her former students didn’t grasp where their food was coming from.
“I think the gap from farm to table is huge,” she said.
Farmhands and family roles have definitely changed at the Holtegaard’s since 2006. Back then, Roger Holtegaard was farming with two hired men, and the kids were young.
“Where we are as a family has completely changed,” said Melinda. “Now it’s the grandkids who are coming here.”
Roger and Melinda still have most of their children near them, as one of their daughters, Portia, is now a veterinarian living in Rochester. Annabelle, a nurse at Mayo, and her husband live next door to the farm.
“I remember our kids at that time (2006) were in every little activity at their school, as well as working on the farm,” said Melinda. “And now today it’s completely different — they’re all married and have families.”
The years of experience have made the Holtegaards even stronger representatives for Olmsted County farming.
“When people ask me if we’re ever going to get out of dairy farming, I say we’ve been in this for 40 years and it’s always been up and down,” said Melinda. “If we got out each time it was bad, we would’ve been out a hundred times. But we’re still here.”
Other Breakfasts on the Farm:
• Goodhue County
WHEN: June 14, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
WHERE: Schrimpf Family Farm, 35939 205th Ave, Goodhue
• Fillmore County
WHEN: June 15, 5:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Mulhern Dairy, 25901 Cty Rd 7, Fountain
• Mower County
WHEN: June 15, 7:30-11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Gene Anderson Farm, 30111 620th Ave., Waltham
• Wabasha County
WHEN: June 20, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Stelling Farm, 62851 305th Ave., Millville
• Winona County
WHEN: June 26, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Aldinger Family Dairy, 27741 County Rd 17, Winona
For cost, menu and transportation details visit fbmn.org/breakfast-on-the-farm
Olmsted County Breakfast on the Farm
WHERE: Blue Horizon Farm; 4329 75th St. NE, Rochester, MN 55906
WHEN: 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
MENU: Pancakes, sausage and cheese will be served with juice, milk and coffee as refreshments.
ACTIVITIES: Tractor-drawn wagon rides, a petting zoo and agricultural displays and exhibits. Attendees will also get to watch milking take place. The event will be handicap-accessible.
COST: $7 for adults, $4 for ages 5-12 and free for children 5 and younger.
TRANSPORTATION: A free shuttle bus will run from 6:30 a.m to 10:45 a.m. from the west parking lot of Century High School to the Blue Horizon Farm and back. There will also be free parking at the farm for attendees who travel by car.
SPONSORS: Olmsted Farm Bureau, Olmsted Co ADA, Plainview Milk