Story and photo courtesy of The Northern Star Newspaper
THE TOM AND MARY ARENS FAMILY OF GRACEVILLE was named the Big Stone County 2019 Farm Family of the Year. They will be among the Minnesota Farm Families of the Year to be recognized at FarmFest in Redwood County on August 6. The family is pictured at the Big Stone County Fair. Tom’s mother, Beverly Arens is pictured, along with the Tom and Mary, right; and their children, Michelle, who will be a junior at CGB this fall and Joe, who will be a freshman.
Eighty-four families from throughout Minnesota are being honored as 2019 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota. In Big Stone County the Tom Arens family was named the 2019 Farm Family of the Year. Tom’s father, Tony, purchased the Arens farm, rural Graceville, in 1962. Tony and his wife, Bev, raised nine children on the farm. They grew corn, soybeans and wheat and raised 50,000 laying hens. Tom’s parents also had 500 cow/calf pairs and raised pigs. In 2009, Tom and Mary took over the farm.
The Arens’ raise corn, soybeans and wheat on 1,200 acres. They custom feed cattle in a 750-head pit barn and custom feed 3,000 hogs. Tom and Mary both handle daily chores that go with crop production, including planting, spraying and harvesting. Their children, Michelle and Joe, help with tillage, working the cattle, rock picking and other jobs. The Arens are members of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Graceville. Tom serves on the Graceville and Big Stone County township boards. The family has also been involved in the Almond Highlanders 4-H club.
The farm families will be recognized in ceremonies beginning at 1:10 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 8, at the annual Minnesota Farmfest on the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls. The event is in the Wick Buildings Farmfest Center on the estate grounds. University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel will open the program in her first visit to Farmfest. She began her duties July 1. The families were chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture.
“The University of Minnesota takes pride in honoring these families. The farm families receiving this year’s honors exemplify what makes Minnesota agriculture strong,” Extension Dean Bev Durgan said. “They bring innovation, science and hard work to farming. They care greatly about the land and animals and delivering quality products to consumers worldwide.”