MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Nicollet County Farm Family of the Year operates a dairy, corn and soybean operation.
“A little bit surprised, but pretty humbled I guess that we were picked,” said Cindy Swenson.
The Swenson’s farm dates back to 1857 with the dairy operation beginning soon after.
“And we’ve been farming here ever since and Ashley will be the sixth generation and the dairy business started in 1885,” said Paul Swenson, referring to his daughter, Ashley.
Known as Forest Lawn Holsteins, the Swensons’ herd is the oldest continuously registered Holstein herd in the United States, maintained by the Swensons, their daughter Ashley Swenson and son-in-law, David Hanson.
The family farm hasn’t made it this far on a milk check alone.
“We have so many friends that we’ve developed over the years and we were talking not that long ago, it’s been generations of friendships and relationships,” said Ashley Swenson.
Those relationships keep them going when things get tough.
“A lot of it is about community and friendships. It’s more than just a job. We’ve really fostered a family environment even though sometimes there can be challenges, it still is really about family and friends and taking care of the cows,” said Ashley Swenson.
The family says their farm is much more than the gallon of milk or the block of cheese consumers buy at the grocery store.
“I think the thing they’re not seeing is us, I guess, as a family, even though farms are growing in size or that they change the way farms are today, they look differently than they did back in 1885 when we first had our registered cattle,” said Ashley Swenson.
“Farmers aren’t just in the barn all the time; we’re always learning and reading and trying to improve on how well we take care of our animals and how well we do on a day to day basis, just trying to be more efficient, be better stewards of the land, trying to be better caretakers of our animals,” said Ashley Swenson.
The Swensons will be honored at Farm Fest among other farm families at a recognition ceremony on Thursday, August 9 at 1:30 p.m.