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Tweite family celebrates 100 years on the farm

BYRON — For 23 years, Tom and Colleen Tweite of Byron have been entertaining and educating families with their pumpkin patches, wacky corn mazes and wagon rides.

This year, the Tweite family kicked off the harvest season while celebrating their farm's 100th year.

Members of the Tweite family have actively farmed the land since 1910, and their farm was recognized as a centennial farm during the Olmsted County Fair.

Originally a dairy farm, the fields surrounding Tweite's Pumpkin Patch were mostly used to raise small grains in the early years.

About 25 years ago, the Tweites began selling produce like sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins to consumers straight from the farm.


One year, their pie pumpkin contract fell through. Not knowing what to do with all of the pumpkins, they called several area schools and invited students to come out to the field and each pick out a pumpkin.

The hitch was that the Tweites would be given a few minutes with each class to promote agriculture.

"We presented the life cycle of a pumpkin — everything from pollination, to nutrients, water and soil," Tom said earlier this week. "It made us think there might be someone more we could do to educate youth in the area about agriculture. It also seemed like something fun to do."

In 1988, the family decided to hold a fall festival, and activities on their farm have grown in popularity since.

After Tom's father, Robert Tweite, retired from milking, the family had the opportunity to use the dairy barn and the decided to turn it into an area for concessions.

Tom ended up purchasing the farm from his father in 1991.

All four of their daughters grew up on the farm and now have children of their own.

The family spends time in the winter preparing activities and displays for the crowds for the following year.


"Most people have a five-year plan, but we have a 10 to 15-year plan, because we have so many ideas," Tom said. "We add something new to the farm all the time."

The farm staffs two full-time staff throughout the year and about 40 part-time staff on fall weekends.

It takes about 13 weeks to set up the farm and little less to tear it all down, Tom said.

In honor of the farm's 100th anniversary, they've created a room that displays artifacts from the farm's past. Complimentary family photos are also new this year.

The farm continues to be family run. One son-in-law, Scott Esser, is the farm's director of fun, and another son-in-law Adam Pollman drives the tractor to and from the five-acre pumpkin patch.

Their daughter Danielle does all of the hiring and sells tickets on the weekends. Tom said a couple of his nephews also help out on the farm.

The family once helped stage a marriage proposal in their corn maze.

Even though bad weather sometimes results in poor ticket sales, he feels lucky to be a part of something that so many area families enjoy.


"The smiles we've helped create — that's why we do this every year," Tom said.

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