FARMFEST TAB - Families will be honored at Farmfest

22 will be recognized Aug. 6

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. -- New to this year's Farmfest is recognition of the Farm Families of the Year. This year, 22 farm family honorees from southern and western Minnesota will be recognized during a special event at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 6 in the Forum Tent. A reception will follow.

"As the state's largest outdoor agricultural event, we thought Farmfest was the perfect place to honor our farm families of the year,'' said Kent Thiesse, Farmfest forum coordinator and County Extension educator in Blue Earth County.

The University of Minnesota Extension Service has been recognizing a farm family each year from participating counties for many years, Thiesse said. The Farm Family recognition program is designed to demonstrate the university's appreciation of agricultural families living in Minnesota communities, to recognize the many contributions of these families to their communities and to agriculture, and to foster appreciation and understanding of the University and its research and extension missions related to agriculture.

University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks will address the honorees and audience during the ceremony. The event is part of University of Minnesota Day at Farmfest. The public is invited to join in greeting the honorees at the reception following the recognition program.


The following families will be honored this year at Farmfest.

Blue Earth County

Blake and Sheryl Meshke, together with their sons Derek and Brent, operate a diversified crop and livestock operation in Blue Earth County. The farm operation consists of 400 acres of corn, soybeans, and alfalfa, a 250-head ewe flock resulting in 400 market lambs and 2,000 pounds of wool sold each year, and 4,500 head of market hogs custom-fed per year.

Brown County

Dennis and Lucy Potter raise 250 acres of soybean seed under contract, and 250 acres of corn that is used for feed for the 1,400 hogs marketed per year in their farrow-to-finish swine operation on their farm near Springfield. The Potters have three children, Jessica, 25, Erin, 22, and Nate, 19, ho helps with the hogs and fieldwork. The Potters started out farming with Dennis' parents, Bob and Lorraine, who still help out on the farm.

Chippewa County

Tom and Sandi Gunter have a third-generation family farm. Their farm is located in the Hawk Creek Watershed, which is a subbasin of the Minnesota River. A component of their farm environment plan, Best Management Practice is nutrient management. The Gunters raise corn, soybeans and sugarbeets as their cash crops. They use a cover crop program on 800 to 900 acres to reduce soil and wind erosion.

Cottonwood County


Murl and Mary Rupp's sons are the fifth generation of the Rupp family to live on Rosehill Farm, which was recognized as a Century Farm in 1982.

Faribault County

Faribault County Farm Family for 2003 is Jim and Marie Hassing of Wells. The Hassings have been in the Pioneer Seed business for 28 years and operate a diversified farming operation that includes a purebred Angus herd, and 255 crop acres that are planted to corn, soybeans, oats, and alfalfa. Sons Pete and Jon assist with the seed business, Angus herd, and farming operation. Other children are Dan, who lives in Phoenix, and Carol and her family who live at Winnebago.

Jackson County

Jan and Cal Stade and their son, Mike, farm together. The farm enterprise takes place partially on the farm that Cal was born on almost 66 years ago. The Stades raise corn and soybeans and also do some custom farming for a neighbor.

Lincoln County

Jerome and Mary Jerzak farm with their sons Jeff and Tim in a corn, soybean, and wheat operation. Jeff and Tim own 200 head of finishing cattle. Jerome and Mary have three other children Kay Bain, Julie Rostberg and Andrea Rost and six grandchildren.

Lyon County


Al and Deb Louwagie operate a diversified family farm that includes 350 acres of corn and 200 acres of soybeans. They finish 900 beef and custom feed 1,000 head of stock cows each year. The couple's sons Ross, 17; Kyle, 15; Austin, 13; and Spencer, 9, are involved in the farming business, helping feed cattle, mowing grass and assisting with tillage in the spring and fall.

Martin County

Caleb and Danelle McCoy have lived in Martin County for 12 years. Their family includes four children, ages 10 to 17 who are all involved in their farm community.

McLeod County

Loren and Laura Olson have four children Sarah, 19; Luke, 18; Lana, 16, and Elizabeth, 12. They are all involved in the 110-cow registered Holstein herd of which 50 are milk cows. They also grow corn and alfalfa as feed crops.

Meeker County

John and Pat Isaacson operate a dairy farm near Dassel that has been in the family for over 100 years. John and Pat are in partnership with their son, David. Other children in the family include Sarah, Susan and Christine. Their operation consists of 485 acres of crops and 35 milk cows.

Murray County


The Schreiers grow about 600 acres of soybeans a year for a cash crop and about 600 acres of corn, 50 acres of alfalfa, and oats as a nurse crop for alfalfa and also for bedding for their livestock operations. They have a lamb feeding operation on their farm with a feedlot capacity of 3,500 head, turning this about three times a year for a total of 10,000 lambs a year.

Nicollet County

Marjorie and Garfield Eckberg grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa, raise dairy steers and market 2,000 meat-type chickens to local residents. The couple raised five children, Thomas, Paul, James, Peter and Ann-Marie, and have 13 grandchildren.

Nobles County

Ida and Steffen Van Westen raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa on their 730 acre farm. They feed some corn to their livestock, the rest is a cash crop as well as the soybeans and alfalfa. They feed out about 35 head of Holstein steers that they purchase as calves. They also have a goat operation. They raise mostly meat goats and sell to local families or the larger market.

Pipestone County

Mike and Kari Fruechte moved back to Pipestone to farm in the summer of 1992. The Fruechte family is always looking for new alternatives, conservation practices and especially grazing options. They do a lot with new forage crops and grasses for hay and grazing. The Fruechtes belong to a group under contract with Iowa Lamb, which has made lamb marketing much more profitable and predictable.

Redwood County


William and Christine Schwandt harvest and sell hay from 200 acres of alfalfa, along with growing corn and canning peas on their farm two miles north of Gilfillan. Their strong interest in soil conservation is evidenced by their early conversion to reduced tillage equipment, and over 20,000 feet of established windbreaks. After 20 years of milking cows, they converted their milking operation to custom-raising dairy heifers.

Redwood –; New Agricultural Initiative

Fieldstone Vineyards was founded 2000 to capitalize on the ingenuity of the family farm, while seeking diversification from the traditional corn/soybean crop raised on the rich prairie soils of Redwood County. The vineyard was established on the Donald Reding farm, with the involvement of son Chad, and son-in-law Charles Quast, and with the help of their spouses. A fourth partner, Mark Wedge, was brought in as a winemaker.

Rock County

Glen and Ann Boeve raise soybeans, corn, corn silage, oatlage and alfalfa. They also finish beef cattle and own a farrowing unit where they raise iso wean pigs from nursery to finish. They contract with an Arizona dairy to raise Holstein heifers from 300 pounds to springers.

Sibley County

Ron and Mary Trebelhorn, along with brother, Dave Trebelhorn and fiancee Laurie Willaert, all of Winthrop, have been selected as the 2003 Sibley County Farm Family of the Year. Ron and Dave started farming with their father, Ben, in 1970. They entered the dairy buyout in the mid-1980s and now run approximately 1,800 acres of cropland along with raising feeder cattle. Cash crops of sweet corn, peas and soybeans are grown along with corn for feed.

Swift County


Donald and LuElla Young farm 320 acres south of Benson in Swenoda Township raising 140 acres of corn, 90 acres of soybeans, 50 acres of alfalfa and 20 acres of wheat. They also milk 50 Holstein cows plus they have 80 head of calves, heifers and dry cows.

Waseca County

Mike and Jim Mulcahey farm 1,150 acres on a rural Janesville farm, evenly split between corn and soybeans. They have 20 acres of alfalfa in contour and filter strips and finish about 200 head of beef cattle each year.

Watonwan County

Rich and his youngest son Jeremy are an ag and math teaching team in the St. James School. Jeremy has been interested in agriculture and farming since kindergarten and graduated from South Dakota State University with a degree in Ag Education and Mathematics. Last year Jeremy had the opportunity to rent 200 acres so they also have a father-son farming team. They farm 760 acres, which is primarily corn and soybeans with some sweet corn and alfalfa. They also have a small cow herd.

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