The Mark and Deb Erickson family of rural Donnelly has been named Stevens County’s “2019 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota.
Beginning in 1974, Mark and Deb Erickson raised vegetables, dairy calves, hogs and chickens on their farm in Stevens County. In 1989, they began farming Deb’s mother Evelyn Raasch’s farm in Morris Township raising corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cattle. Five years later the couple began full-time farming on another farm near Donnelly. They raised corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa and maintained a beef cow/calf herd on 700 acres.
In the mid-2000s, the Ericksons began converting their farm from row crops to an all grass, high-density grazing operation. The family now raises beef and chickens on all pasture.
In 2010, the Ericksons were honored as outstanding conservationists by the local Soil and Water Conservation District, and in 2018 their farm achieved Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
Mark and Deb have four children. Their daughter, Kristi, and her husband Chris have a son, Tyler. Their son, Daniel, and his wife, Jammie, have three kids: Carter, Evan and Eve. Son, Adam, and his wife, Katie, have three children: Callan, Kadam and Brecken. Son, Andrew, and his wife, Tana, have three children: Maddix, Ryker and Tayven. All have contributed in some way to the farm over the years. Andrew currently helps run both farms.
Mark has served several years as a Rendsville Township supervisor, is on the advisory board of the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, and has been a presenter at the MN Organic Conference. Deb works at the University of Minnesota-Morris as a bakery assistant, volunteers at the county fair as the 4-H Food Stand assistant manager, is a volunteer for the local toy drive, and her favorite part is being grandma to their 10 wonderful grandchildren who come to the farm often. The Ericksons are very involved in their church.
The Ericksons will be recognized and honored locally at the annual community appreciation supper during the Stevens County Fair on Aug. 6.
The 2019 farm families will also be officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 8 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minn. Profiles of the 2019 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University’s farm family website, http://mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu/.
Families receiving honors were selected by their local county Extension committees and have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture and agriculture production.
“These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota's economy and the vitality of Minnesota's rural communities,” said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension. “The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.”
Along with Farmfest, University units sponsoring the recognition event include University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Farmfest runs Aug. 6-8 at the Gilfillan Estate, near Redwood Falls, Minn. Event hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 6 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 7 and 8. Admission is $8 in advance or $10 at the gate and those 17 and under are admitted free. More information on Farmfest is available at www.farmshows.com/ffst.