Next summer we will be celebrating our farm’s centennial. In 1913, Daniel Olson moved his wife and four children from Monona County, Iowa to Lyon County, Minnesota. I cannot imagine packing up everything in a wagon and venturing 230 miles from everything you’ve known. If I were to drive it today, it would be about a 4 1/2 hour drive. The dreams of making a better life for your family are powerful. It is what drove men and women from one coast to the other then, as it does now.
The oldest of the four children, Nuel, eventually took over the farm from his father. Nuel also had dreams of making a better life for his family. He jumped at the opportunity to start raising certified seed for the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association in the 1940’s, when his two boys were young.
Left to right: Nuel, Robert, and Kenny (my father in law). This photo appeared in a magazine at some point in time.
My father in law, Kenny, did not attend high school in our town. He attended “Aggie School” at what is now the University of Minnesota, Morris. When his brother was fighting in the Korean Conflict, Kenny took a year off from school to help his dad on the farm. The purpose of “Aggie School” was to teach the boys the newer farming methods. It was like a boarding school for boys who wanted to farm.
When Kenny took over the farm after his brother passed away, he continued to raise certified seed for MCIA. He was very good at raising seed, and was a well respected business man. He was also known for his integrity. He built the farm, little by little, to make a better life for his family.
Jonathan enjoyed working with pigs when he was in high school, and dreamed of building a pig barn after he was out of college. He graduated from college in 1988, and we married later that summer. A little over a year after we were married, he remodeled a shed on our little farm, and was able to start raising pigs. He went on to build a few more barns that were better for the animals, and would allow him to fully capture the manure.
When first approached with the idea to raise crops organically, Jonathan was a little hesitant. He researched the requirements, and decided to give it a try. He knew we needed to do something a little different to keep the farm successful, and this seemed like a good opportunity. Round Up Ready soybeans were becoming the hot ticket, which meant there was less demand for the public seed we were raising. Raising our crops organically turned out to be a good fit for us. We know it isn’t for everyone, and that is okay. Everyone has their own dream, their own thing that they do well. This is ours.
When I look back at the history of our farm, I see that we are just continuing the tradition of our forefathers to grasp onto opportunities. To reach for our dreams, and to make a better life for our family.
Our farm around the early to mid 1940’s
Our farm today: