VOLGA, S.D. - Spring and summer on a working farm. Who can beat it?
For many people in the rural states of South Dakota, North Dakota and even outstate Minnesota, genuine agri-opportunities on real, working farms are limited.
Happily, that's changing. I happened to be at Stoney Hill Farms near Volga, S.D., in mid-May when my brother, Mark, his wife, Phyllis, and their son, Kevin, and daughter-in-law, Courtney, hosted a "pet-a-lamb" opportunity.
The family works in town but also farms "on the side" with a ewe flock, a few head of cattle and some corn, alfalfa and soybeans. They welcome visitors most anytime, but in the past three years they have been more deliberate about making an event for it, sending young visitors away with small stuffed toy lambs or snippets of wool. They've had groups of up to 10 kids with parents.
Courtney, who works as an in-patient nurse at the Brookings Hospital, is one of the event promoters. Raised on a beef cattle farm, Courtney delights in getting kids on the terrain, sometimes witnessing lambing, feeding lambs or petting them, as well as climbing bales and getting up to a tractor cab.
"We do what we can to promote ag and education," Courtney says. "I don't think people understand quite so much how much work it is. You truly have to enjoy it to be farmers." Her son, Conrad, just 2, was enjoying the mud puddles - his favorite part of the tour.
Here are a number of opportunities for farm visits found in the region. If you know of others, send them to email@example.com, and we'll add them to the our list online.
Mighty Axe Hops at 8505 95 St. NE, Foley, Minn., holds a farm tour on June 30, 1-3 p.m.
CommonGround Minnesota sponsored several events across the state in 2017. Watch for 2018 listings on their www.commongroundminnesota.com website.
A list of farm-sponsored breakfast or picnic opportunities are available at www.fbmn.org/breakfast-on-the-farm. Most involve a food, available for minimal cost, tours and activities for children. All are sponsored by local organizations, including the county Farm Bureau or dairy associations. Here is a chronological list:
June 2 - 7 a.m. - Noon
Location: Dave and Joanne Herbranson Farm - 12402 260th St. S., Hawley
Contact: Keith or Lori Aakre - 218-937-5514 or BOTF.Hawley@gmail.com
June 2 - 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Location: Vogt Dairy, Sauk Centre
Contact: Tara Meyer - 507-330-3927
June 12 - 5 - 7:30 p.m.
Location: Farmamerica - 7367 360th Ave, Waseca
Contact: Ashley Harguth - 507-461-2098 or firstname.lastname@example.org
June 14 - 5 - 7 p.m.
Location: Veterans Memorial Park, Kasson
Contact: Mary Jo Schoenfeld, 507-455-0745 or email@example.com
June 15 - 7 - 11 a.m.
Location: Perkins Family Farms, 30301 210th Ave, Red Wing
Contact: Minnesota Farmers Union - 651-639-1223
June 16 - 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Roadside Dairy - Todd and Sue Hendrickson, 14163 241st Ave, Preston
Contact: Trinity Johnson - 507-273-7550
June 16 - 7:30 - 11:30 a.m. Childrens activities at 9:30 - 11 a.m.
Location: Brian and Aimee Klouse Farms, 56633 150th St, Austin
Contact: Virginia Bissen - firstname.lastname@example.org or 507- 582-3158
June 16 - 6:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Location: Behounek Dairy, Inc., 21042 710th St, Hayfield
June 16 - 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: Poppler Dairy - Waverly
June 17 - 4 - 8 p.m.
Location: Windom Arena on the Cottonwood County Fairgrounds
Contact: Matt Adrian - 507-301-4098
June 20 - 4 - 8 p.m.
Location: Sobeck Brothers Farm, Winona.
Contact: Winona Chamber - 507-452-2272 or email@example.com
June 21 - 4:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Terrill and Michelle Luhman, 37435 Co Rd 17, Zumbro Falls
Contact: Katie Brown - 507-951-2951
June 23 - 8 a.m. - 12 noon
Location: Laveaus Farm, 508 Cemetery Road, Wrenshall
Contact: Mark Thell, 218-851-7718 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Terri Thell at 218-384-3878
June 24 - 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: Beltrami County Fairgrounds, Bemidji
Contact: Stan Kimmes at 218-751-5900
June 30 - 8 - 11 a.m.
Location: Leslie Olson Farm, 19704 240th St, Bagley
Contact: Al Paulson - 218-694-6520
June 30 - 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: 30030 Fellows Ave, Rushmore
Contact: Jason Edwards - email@example.com
June 30 - 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: Rinde Farms, 28189 County 25, Long Prairie
Contact: Todd County Extension - 320-732-4435
July 20 - 5 - 8 p.m.
Location: Watonwan County Fairgrounds, 53 11th St. S., St. James
July 26 - 5 - 8 p.m.
Location: Cook's Country Connection, 153 Vermillion Drive, Cook
Contact: Lois Pajari - 218-780-8611 or firstname.lastname@example.org
August 1 - 5 - 8 p.m.
Location: Mr. Ed's Farm, LLC, 10796 Foss Road, Hibbing
Contact: Ed Nelson - 218-966-1354 or email@example.com
Blue Earth/Le Sueur Counties:
August 11 - 7 - 11:30 a.m.
Location: Guentzel Family Farm, 32172-490th Street, Kasota
Montana offers farm and ranch tours through a Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development website: https://www.visitmt.com/things-to-do/guides-and-tours/agricultural-tours...
May 1 to Sept. 30
Farm to Table: Family and Food in the Yellowstone Valley - Moss Mansion, 914 Division Street, Billings
There are a number of farm and ranch attractions in North Dakota, specified by region. Find the list at https://www.ndtourism.com/listings/ranch-farm-attractions.
CommonGround North Dakota hosts a number of farm related activities throughout the year.
Go to https://www.facebook.com/CommonGroundNorthDakota/ for more information.
June 14 - 1 - 5 p.m.
Breakfast on the Farm at Dr. Dawn's Pet Stop, 1202 12th Ave SE, Jamestown
Contact: Dr. Dawn's Pet Shop - 701-952-PETS (7387)
June 16 - 7 - 11 a.m.
Breakfast on the Farm at Northern Lights Dairy, 2165 54th St, Mandan
Contact: Northern Lights Dairy - Andrew or Jennifer at 701-445-7500
June 2 - 11 a.m - 1:30 p.m.
Location: "Old Tree Farms," 46318 214 St., Volga, S.D.
Contact: Frido and Sonia Verpaalen, and part of DairyFest based in Brookings, S.D. Information: https://www.facebook.com/sddairyfest/
June 9 - 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: 46472 171 St., Goodwin
Contact: MoDak Dairy, Inc. - 605-882-8935
June 16 - 9 a.m - 1 p.m.
Location: Royalwood Dairy, 48170 266 St., Brandon
June 26 - 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
June 30 - 10 a.m. - 1 p.m
Location: Boadwine Dairy, 46945 251st Ave., Baltic
Location: Jungeman Dairy, 38223 203rd St., Wolsey
Farms After Five Tour - Bus leaves from Sioux Falls
Register at: agunited.org/2018farmtours