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Erin Brown / Grand Vale Creative

Fargo shoppers grateful for ag industry

FARGO, N.D. — Fargo-Moorhead has become a metropolitan community, but Agweek found that shoppers at the West Acres Regional Shopping Center are close to agriculture and are ag-savvy and thankful for farmers.

Here's what a few mall shoppers told Agweek:

Steeped in ag

Anne Fridgen of Moorhead, Minn., is on maternity leave from her job as a paraprofessional at the Ed Clapp school in Fargo. She has two older children, and her youngest was born Sept. 12.

Fridgen has lots of ties to agriculture. Her husband, Matt Fridgen, is the service manager for Titan Machinery outside of Moorhead. Her father-in-law, Steven Fridgen, farms near Dumont, Minn., and her father, Terry Christians, is an energy manager for CHS Inc. at Herman, Minn.

"My husband hopes to go back someday and farm as well," Fridgen says, noting he has spent the past several weekends at the farm and may return to farm full-time someday. The family will gather at the farm for Thanksgiving.

Fridgen enjoyed growing up around farms and gets joy from seeing crops harvested and farmers working the fields.

"Some people don't know what combining means. They don't know when you combine," she says. "They don't know when you plant. It's always interesting to see what some people who grew up in the F-M area their whole life. You can tell (which) people grew up in the rural areas."

Habitat health

Coy Papachek was born in Bismarck, N.D., but has lived in Fargo, N.D., for 18 years. He manages photo booths but depends on agriculture. His father is a project manager for RDO Equipment Co., a John Deere dealer chain based in Fargo.

Papachek appreciates farmers as the keepers of wildlife habitat. He and his family hunt pheasants in the Dickinson, N.D., area, where the birds thrive among corn and sunflower fields.

"I thank (farmers) for their hard work," Papachek says. "It's a tough job, a demanding job from sunup to sundown. I thank them for making it easy for me just to be able to go to the grocery store and pick the stuff I want and not have to do that hard work myself."

Stew and stir-fry are among the items the Papachek family will be sharing for Thanksgiving, all courtesy of farmers.

Ag's melody

Sue Dale, Moorhead, Minn., makes her career teaching music to Montessori students in Fargo and accompanies choirs in school and church. She grew up in a farming family between Georgetown, Minn., and Kragnes, Minn., north of Moorhead. They raise corn, soybeans and grains. Her brother and father, Tom and Dennis Odegard (supposedly retired), are still farming.

"I still think of the different seasons based on the crops and like the smells of harvest," Dale says. "They bring back a lot of memories."

Part of her holidays are at the farm. She says the Fargo-Moorhead community has become metropolitan, but is still interconnected with farming.

"It's so important, no matter what your vocation," she says, saying that some don't know "how dependent we are on farm prices and the markets for them."

Blast of ag

Stephen Wilkinson, Fergus Falls, Minn., studied animal science at the University of Minnesota, after working on a neighbor's dairy and beef farm for summers from ages 15 to 18.

Instead of going into agriculture, he volunteered for the military and spent 21 years in the Army and then the Air Force, focusing on computers.

Wilkinson says he appreciates agriculture "absolutely, every day."

"I look at the fields; I enjoy especially the summer," Wilkinson says. Ag provides "everything we eat."

Wilkinson says non-farmers think change can be imposed quickly on farmers when that's not always quick or even possible.

"Everything costs, and they need to realize that when they make changes, farmers are going to have to find a way to come up with the cost for the changes they make," Wilkinson says.

My world

Sully Breckheimer of Luverne, N.D., 21, farms with parents, Tom and Tricia, and his uncle, Trevor Jacobsen. Sully also attends Valley City State University, pursuing a degree in ag business.

"I hope to get some land," he says. He bought 35 cows in the past year to get started on his own herd. As the corn harvest concluded, he took a break for errands at the mall.

Agriculture has been around him since he's been a young child, caring for bottle calves and watching crops from planting to harvest.

"That's what it's all about," he says.

The family maintains about 250 Black Angus cows and farm about 4,500 acres of soybeans, edible beans and corn.

Sully says people outside of agriculture have a hard time comprehending markets and the financial realities of farming. His family doesn't raise poultry, but he appreciates it at Thanksgiving.