Minnesota author writes about region’s ag in the1950sGordon Fredrickson doesn’t pretend that the small farm of his youth was perfect. But the Minnesota author says that what happened on that farm, and others like it, is an important part of our heritage and should be remembered.
By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek
Gordon Fredrickson doesn’t pretend that the small farm of his youth was perfect.
But the Minnesota author says that what happened on that farm, and others like it, is an important part of our heritage and should be remembered.
“I don’t want to glorify the past. But I want it to be remembered in its totality,” he says.
Fredrickson, who lives in Lakeville, Minn., has written a number of illustrated books that celebrate events on his small Minnesota family farm half a century ago.
His two latest books are “A Farm County Picnic” from his Farm Country Tales series and “If I were a Farmer: Tommy’s Adventure,” from his If I were a Farmer Series. All his books are published by Beaver’s Pond Press, Edina. Minn.
People who buy the books range in age from young to old, Fredrickson says. Customers include seniors buying for their grandchildren and young adults buying for their future children
Too often, agriculture is portrayed to the public as “a petting zoo,” Fredrickson says.
His books provide a different, broader view of agriculture, or at least the farms of his youth, he says.
The books contain four key messages and components, Fredrickson says. They are:
- Children and adults working together to accomplish specific goals.
- Accurate details about activities, adults and children on a farm.
- The importance of helping parents and siblings.
- Children having fun doing simple, physical activites such as picking wild berries and climbing trees.
Some current farmers have told him that his books should do more to explain modern agriculture to the public, he says.
But that’s not his goal or intent.
“I don’t pretend to know about modern farming,” he says.
Even so, the books do provide some insight into modern agriculture as well. For instance, “Tommy’s Adventure” contains a glossary explaining terms such as staple (“a U-shaped wire nail used to fasten wire to posts”) and post (“a length of wood fixed firmly upright in the ground to hold up wire for a fence”).
Minnesota farm kid
Fredrickson, 65, was born in New Prague, Minn., and grew up on a 120-acre dairy farm. Like other local farm children, he began working on the farm as a young boy.
After earning a master of education degree from the University of Minnesota, he taught high school English for 16 years. He and his wife, Nancy, operated a small grain and livestock operation in Minnesota for the first five years of his teaching career.
Fredrickson performs his stories free of charge (“donation for travel expenses greatly appreciated”) at elementary schools, public libraries, museums, retirement homes, community centers and child care facilities.