U of M recognizes 2011 Farm Families of the Year

MINNEAPOLIS -- 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.

MINNEAPOLIS -- 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 recognized in a ceremony Aug. 4 at Farmfest near Redwood Falls.

"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 is Aug. 2 to 4 at the Gilfillan Estate. 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.


Area farm families honored this year include the following:

Chippewa County

Palke Farms, Clara City -- Tom Palke acquired his farm in 1978 when it was passed down from his father, Fred. The farm is more than 2,300 acres which includes acres of corn, sugar beets, peas, and sweet corn. Both Tom and Kathy's fathers have also helped for many years until recently retiring. Tom and Kathy's children, Josh and Brittni, also helped on the farm while growing up.

Kandiyohi County

Larry, Mary, Drew and Amy Larson Family Farm, Willmar -- Larry and Mary Larson are currently the third generation on their land in Willmar. They grow 550 acres of corn, 550 acres of soybeans and 30 acres of vegetables. The vegetables include sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, squash and onions. On the farm, Larry is a full-time operator. Mary teaches off the farm, but helps as needed. Larry and Mary have two children, Drew and Amy, who are both students. Drew and Amy help around the farm when needed, primarily with the vegetable farming.

In the community, the Larson family donates vegetables to the food shelf and participates in the Farm-to-School Program. Larry and Mary also enjoy being part of Minnesota Vegetable Growers, providing farm tours to local groups, and participating in the Willmar Farmers Market.

Lac qui Parle County

David and Patricia Craigmile -- David Craigmile's great-grandfather homesteaded in Maxwell Township in July 1872. His sons later purchased adjacent lands, all of which were lost in the 1930s Depression. Dave's father and mother purchased some of the original lands back in 1944. After going off to college and teaching in the Osseo School District, Dave and Pat returned to the farm in 1975 and purchased it from Dave's parents in 1976. In later years, David and Pat also purchased other adjacent lands originally owned by Dave's great-grandfather. Today, the farm has grains with a mix of conservation lands. Dave and Pat have two daughters, Jessica and Martha, who worked alongside them until they went off to college, married, and pursued non-agricultural professions.


Meeker County

Turck's Dairy Farm -- In 1976, the Turck farm in Litchfield was classified as a century farm. Jim Turck was only 11 years old at this time. He is now the fourth generation to operate the farm and has been milking and crop farming since 1984. In 2009, Jim and Lisa were awarded the Meeker County Conservation Award. Today Jim owns and operates 420 acres. He grows corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, and alfalfa. He and his family operate a 60-cow dairy. Jim gets help on the farm from wife Lisa and daughters Jennifer, Amanda, and Rachel.

Renville County

Neubauer Farms Inc. -- The Neubauer family farm was started by Joe Neubauer in 1900. His son, Ben Neubauer, and Ben's wife Agnes ran the farm for many years until Ben and Agnes's two sons, Don and Jerry, took over. Now, Don's son Mike Neubauer and wife Mary and Jerry's son Bill Neubauer and his wife Janelle run the farm. Today, Bill and Mike raise 1,100 acres of sugar beets, corn, soybeans, sweet corn, and peas.

Swift County

Al and Renaee Schreck Family -- Al's farming began in 1980, when he bought a small acreage of land adjoining his father's land. He grew corn, beans and wheat and raised swine. Al and his father farmed together until his father's death in 1986. Al then purchased his father's land in Appleton and moved to it with his wife Renaee. In 2004, they decided to sell the hogs, get more land, and begin raising beef and alfalfa. Today the farm consists of 1,100 acres of land producing wheat, beans, corn and alfalfa. The beef herd has expanded from 18 to 75 cows and three bulls. Renaee helps on the farm, but works full-time as a school nurse. Al and Renaee have four children; Makayla, Kelsey, Joey, and Andy. All four children have the desire to pursue careers in agriculture.

Yellow Medicine County

Randal and Anna Kamrath Family -- In 1913, August and Ida Kamrath moved from Sauk Centre to Section 7 in Porter Township. In 1946, August's son Edward and Thelma Kamrath began farming the land. Eleven years later, Ed's son Gilbert started farming the adjacent section with his wife Neva. Finally, in 1993, Gil's son Randal and his wife Anna took over the family farm and farm both sections, as well as other farms in the area. Randal and Anna grow corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. They also have pasture stock cows and calves, Berkshire hogs, hobby horses, chickens and ducks. Randal and Anna have five children; Erin, Becca, Nikky, Izzy, and James. Erin, Becca, and Nikky are great help on the farm and Izzy and James are in training.

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