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.

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"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 mpates@agweek.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:

Clay County:

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

Stearns County:

June 2 - 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Location: Vogt Dairy, Sauk Centre

Contact: Tara Meyer - 507-330-3927

Waseca County:

June 12 - 5 - 7:30 p.m.

Location: Farmamerica - 7367 360th Ave, Waseca

Contact: Ashley Harguth - 507-461-2098 or ashley.harguth@hotmail.com

Dodge County:

June 14 - 5 - 7 p.m.

Location: Veterans Memorial Park, Kasson

Contact: Mary Jo Schoenfeld, 507-455-0745 or maryjo.schoenfeld@fbmn.org

Goodhue County:

June 15 - 7 - 11 a.m.

Location: Perkins Family Farms, 30301 210th Ave, Red Wing

Contact: Minnesota Farmers Union - 651-639-1223

Fillmore County:

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

Mower County:

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 - vmbissen@gmail.com or 507- 582-3158

Olmstead County:

June 16 - 6:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Location: Behounek Dairy, Inc., 21042 710th St, Hayfield

Wright County:

June 16 - 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Location: Poppler Dairy - Waverly

Cottonwood County:

June 17 - 4 - 8 p.m.

Location: Windom Arena on the Cottonwood County Fairgrounds

Contact: Matt Adrian - 507-301-4098

Winona County:

June 20 - 4 - 8 p.m.

Location: Sobeck Brothers Farm, Winona.

Contact: Winona Chamber - 507-452-2272 or info@winonachamber.com

Wabasha County:

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

Carlton County:

June 23 - 8 a.m. - 12 noon

Location: Laveaus Farm, 508 Cemetery Road, Wrenshall

Contact: Mark Thell, 218-851-7718 or 4quartersholding@gmail.com, or Terri Thell at 218-384-3878

Beltrami County:

June 24 - 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Location: Beltrami County Fairgrounds, Bemidji

Contact: Stan Kimmes at 218-751-5900

Clearwater County:

June 30 - 8 - 11 a.m.

Location: Leslie Olson Farm, 19704 240th St, Bagley

Contact: Al Paulson - 218-694-6520

Nobles County:

June 30 - 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Location: 30030 Fellows Ave, Rushmore

Contact: Jason Edwards - noblesfbmn@gmail.com

Todd County:

June 30 - 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Location: Rinde Farms, 28189 County 25, Long Prairie

Contact: Todd County Extension - 320-732-4435

Watonwan County:

July 20 - 5 - 8 p.m.

Location: Watonwan County Fairgrounds, 53 11th St. S., St. James

Arrowhead Region

July 26 - 5 - 8 p.m.

Location: Cook's Country Connection, 153 Vermillion Drive, Cook

Contact: Lois Pajari - 218-780-8611 or cookscountryconnection@gmail.com

Arrowhead Region

August 1 - 5 - 8 p.m.

Location: Mr. Ed's Farm, LLC, 10796 Foss Road, Hibbing

Contact: Ed Nelson - 218-966-1354 or mredsfarmllc@gmail.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...

Yellowstone County:

May 1 to Sept. 30

Farm to Table: Family and Food in the Yellowstone Valley - Moss Mansion, 914 Division Street, Billings

North Dakota

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.

Stutsman County:

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)

Information: https://www.facebook.com/events/151482222368004/

Morton County:

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

Information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1640780782702803/

South Dakota

Brookings County

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/

Deuel County:

June 9 - 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Location: 46472 171 St., Goodwin

Contact: MoDak Dairy, Inc. - 605-882-8935

Minnehaha County:

June 16 - 9 a.m - 1 p.m.

Location: Royalwood Dairy, 48170 266 St., Brandon

Information: agunited.org/events/breakfast-on-the-farm/

Minnehaha County:

June 26 - 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Know Your Milk bus trip from Sioux Falls. Those who haven't attended before, sign up at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/knowyourmilk, Information: " target="_blank">agunited.org/2018farmtours

June" target="_blank">agunited.org/2018farmtours

June 30 - 10 a.m. - 1 p.m

Location: Boadwine Dairy, 46945 251st Ave., Baltic

Information: www.agunited.org/events

Beadle County

July 14

Location: Jungeman Dairy, 38223 203rd St., Wolsey

Information: www.agunited.org/events

Minnehaha County

July 26

Farms After Five Tour - Bus leaves from Sioux Falls

Register at: agunited.org/2018farmtours