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Byron farm family honored as Olmsted County's best for 2022

The Byron-area Larsen family farm was recognized at the Olmsted County Fair as the county's Family Farm of the year.

Farm Family of the Year
Kay, Martin and Rudy Larsen accept the award of the Farm Family of the Year ahead of the livestock auction at the Olmsted County Fair in Rochester on Thursday, July 28, 2022.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Martin Larsen never expected to be labeled an influencer.

But Thursday night at the Olmsted County Fair, the Byron-area farmer and his family were honored for the influential farming practices and how they inspire other farmers around them.

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“Farmers leading farmers is pretty powerful,” Larsen said.

The 700-acre Larsen farm stands out amid Olmsted County’s 285,944 acres of farmland for its dedication to soil conservation, agriculture and its community.

Lisa Dierks, the southeast regional director for the University of Minnesota Extension, said honorees must show an active involvement in their communities and the agriculture industry.

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Larsen farm has done just that.

Amid its core job of growing crops and raising livestock, the Larsen farm has shown its dedication to conservation and soil health, while influencing other grower to adopt similar sustainable farming techniques.

By using cover crops, the farm was able to eventually adopt a 100% no-till farming technique, which the United States Department of Agriculture estimates can save a farmer 588 million gallons of diesel fuel annually and prevent 5.8 million tons of carbon emissions.

Dierks said there were several nominees, so to winnow the choice down to the Larsen farm took some work. The Olmsted County Extension Committee takes to the streets in a grassroots canvassing manner to gauge who community members think deserves recognition.

“Of the whole process, the hardest part is getting nominations because we know there’s a lot of great, deserving people,” Dierks said.

The goal of the recognition, Dierks said, is to bring growers to the forefront of their communities and show that farm families are “integral parts” of communities.

“It’s helping to be able to share that story with the greater communities and to be able to thank them for what I bet most of them would say ‘it’s just in a day's work,’” Dierks said.

Dierks recalled the Larsen family’s humility after hearing the news. The Larsen family showed the same humility when recognized Thursday night.

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As three members of the Larsen family were recognized in front of an audience at Graham Arena 1, Dierks gave a brief history of the five-generation farm.

The family farm is currently headed by Martin Larsen, who started overseeing operations in 2010. Martin was joined at the recognition by his mother, Kay and son, Rudy.

Martin Larsen said one of the accomplishments he is most proud of is being a part of the Byron Area Farmers Group, which works together to share conservation techniques like no-till and cover crops.

Larsen also mentioned feeling proud of his son Rudy for already learning the importance of “passing the farm down in better condition than when we inherited it.”

Into future generations, Larsen hopes the farm can continue to be profitable on a small scale without having to expand onto other acres.

“It's better for the community,” Larsen said while explaining the importance of smaller farms in strengthening the community’s economy and environmental health.

Bella Carpentier is a journalism and political science student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN-TC). She is currently the managing editor of the student-run paper at UMN-TC, the Minnesota Daily. While reporting for the Minnesota Daily, she covered student activism and issues affecting the university's student body. Working for the Post Bulletin, Bella hopes to build community connections and advance her reporting skills. Readers can reach Bella at bcarpentier@postbulletin.com.
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