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From Our Family Farm to Yours

Why I Farm

BECK'S WHY I FARM ROADTRIP - MINNESOTA FARMERS, Jonathan & Carolyn Olson

Published on Thursday, December 15, 2016

Like many young farm kids, Jonathan Olson grew up wanting to farm, following in the footsteps of three generations before him. “As a small child I loved and enjoyed farming. I was excited to have the opportunity. I grew up helping where I could.” He smiles, looking over his family’s Minnesota farm.

Today, Jonathan raises organic crops and conventional pigs with his wife, Carolyn. They’ve raised their three daughters on the farm and Carolyn enjoys sharing their lifestyle on her blog. Serving her community through involvement in Farm Bureau and other groups, it’s clear she’s passionate about agriculture. But, unlike her husband, farming isn’t something Carolyn knew would be in her future.

 

 

Through her childhood, Carolyn spent a week or two each summer visiting cousins that lived on a farm. She enjoyed helping with chores and was intrigued by the differences from her life in the Twin Cities area. After Jonathan and Carolyn started dating seriously, her parents expressed concern. “My mom and dad kept going, ‘You realize that farming is not the two week thing you see when you go visit your cousins, right?’ I was like, ‘I’m aware. He’s told me.’” Carolyn smiles.

As soon as the couple was married, Carolyn had the chance to jump into full-time farm life. “When we got married, it was a drought year. We were on our honeymoon at Glacier National Park and we’d call home to check in every few days. Jon’s dad said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to start harvesting corn.’ We cut our honeymoon short so that we could come home and help with harvest. The day we got back is when I learned how to move corn wagons. I pretty much have been plugged in ever since, and I’ve loved it. Absolutely loved it!”

 

 

Over the years, with patient help from Jonathan and his father, Carolyn has learned to do nearly everything on the farm. Now, as a team, Jonathan and Carolyn, manage their family’s century farm. “We were best friends before we got married and we’re still best friends. We like to have fun. It helps because it makes working in a partnership so much better. When you eat, sleep, work, do everything together, you have to be able to get along.” Carolyn smiles.

Together, the couple takes in each season. “Every season, to me, brings joy.” Carolyn explains. “Spring when the snow melts and you first get out into the field. You plant the seed and wait for it to pop through the ground, watching it grow, see the countryside greening up. In the summer it’s exciting to watch each stage of the plants. Then in the fall, you’re harvesting and you literally get to see the fruits of your labor pouring into the combine. All that hard work, how it’s paying off. In the winter, for us, we go and we learn more about how we can be better.”

 

 

Networking and mentorship is important to the Olsons. Thanks to information from others and their own research, they’ve discovered some innovative practices that are a great fit for their organic crops. With GPS autosteer and soil test maps, pelleted poultry litter and cover crops can be utilized in the most efficient way.

“We planted the tillage radishes with our corn planter in the exact same rows where we’ll plant the corn next year. With GPS we will be able to plant exactly on top of where the tillage radish was. The tillage radish roots will just mush up when they freeze, but because it’s frozen, the nutrients they’re holding stay in the root zone and the corn will be able to use it next year.”

 

 

Being good stewards of the soil is essential. It makes sense for the farm as a business, but is also a way for the Olsons to put their faith into action. “Caring for the land and the animals to the best of your ability and respecting them is super important.” Carolyn says. “It is tending God’s creation. It’s something you don’t take lightly. For Jonathan and I, our faith is intertwined in everything that we do.”

"I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to farm.” Jonathan smiles. “I love being out on the land. Sometimes as an organic farmer we do more passes because we’re doing more cultivation. We see the crops more, but I love every pass. It’s a great place to raise the kids and I love the lifestyle. Even though the hours are crazy sometimes, I truly enjoy it. I like being able to work together with my wife on the farm. Why do I farm? I guess it’s the love of it all."

That’s why Jonathan and Carolyn Olson farm.

 

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