A trio of area farm families are among those that have been chosen for the spotlight this year. The Glen S. Johnson family of Lincoln County, the Stan and Jean Larson family of Murray County and the David and Kim Kvam family of Yellow Medicine County were all named honorees in the University of Minnesota Extension's Farm Family of the Year program.
The University of Minnesota Extension announced its Farm Families of the Year earlier this month. A total of 73 families, each representing their home county, were selected by county Extension committees for their commitment to supporting agriculture, the Extension said.
Members of the three families say the awards were both an honor and a big surprise.
"I never dreamed we'd be nominated for anything like that," Ruth Johnson said this week. She and her husband Glen and their children had never been anything more than small family farmers. "This is great for us."
Although they weren't "big-time," the Johnson's farm in rural Hendricks has been in the family for more than 100 years, and Ruth grew up there. Glen Johnson is a former rural mail carrier and also served in the U.S. Air Force.
The Johnsons have begun to pass the farming torch on to the next generation of the family, Ruth Johnson said.
"Our sons farm with us," she said, helping to raise corn, soybeans, wheat, and some cattle and horses.
Stan Larson said the Farm Family of the Year award also came as a surprise for him.
"It's an honor for us to represent the county," Larson said.
Larson said he and Jean began farming their land in rural Balaton since 1979.
"It's actually my wife's folks' old home place," Larson said. "It's kind of different, we've kept it up over the years."
It was also a good vantage point to see some of the methods and tools of farming change over time, he said. The Larsons raise corn and soybeans, and Stan Larson is also a member of the Murray County Fair Board and the Murray County Parks Board. Jean Larson is assistant cashier at First Independent Bank.
Family is what makes the farm run, Stan Larson said. The Larsons' son Bruce farms with them, and all their children and grandchildren come to help out when needed.
The Kvam Farm of rural Granite Falls is another honoree for 2010. Like the other area Farm Families of the Year, David and Kim Kvam's family had been working the land for more than a generation, an Extension profile said. David Kvam began farming 25 years ago, and before that the farm belonged to his parents and grandparents.
The Kvams raise corn and soybeans, and David is also a member of the Montevideo Farmer's Union and Co-op board of directors.
Farm Family of the Year honorees, including the area families will be recognized in a ceremony Aug. 5 at Farmfest, near Redwood Falls. A complete list of 2010 Farm Family of the Year honorees, with biographical information, can be found online at mnfarmfamlilies.cfans.umn.edu