The Dean and Marj Schroeder family of Renville has been named Renville County’s 2019 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.

“It’s really an honor,” said Marj, available by phone late in the evening, her husband still at work in the field. “There are so many families who could have been selected. It’s quite the honor.”

Each year local University of Minnesota Extension committees recognize a farm family from each county in the state who have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture and agriculture production.

“Dean loves to farm, and I can’t help but know farming because he talks about it all the time. Farming is the passion,” she explained. “Evening comes and we’re done with the farm work and what do we do...we hop in the car and take a ride to survey the crop.”

The pair are both fourth-generation Renville County farmers with their ancestors emigrating from Norway, Sweden, Germany and Bohemia in the mid-to-late 1800s before settling in the Renville County townships of Flora, Sacred Heart, Osceola and Palmyra.

Today, the Schroeders are members of Middle Creek United Methodist Church. It is apparent their heritage very much still runs through their blood.

“I think it’s something you are born with; an inner calling with who you are and where you want to live. Growing up in a farming community we saw both types of people. Some can’t wait to get off the farm, but we enjoy the farm,” Marj said.

Alongside their children Rachel and Macius, the Schroeders actively cultivate their land as a family. Rachel has a degree in animal science, and Macius in crop and weed science.

“Both were involved in 4-H and FFA,” said Marj. “My daughter was more into the area of animals, while our son chose the route of crops. Both see the importance of agriculture in the world.”

On their farm, the Schroeders raise corn, soybeans and wheat using strip-till and no-till practices. They also seed a variety of cover crops.

“Cover crops make the most difference,” said Marj, questioned about the most effective farming practice the family is currently focused on for improving crop and soil outcomes. “Me, myself, I enjoy seeing some of the things that are happening in regard to the soils changing. Changes as far as being healthier, having more worm activity and having a more porous structure, so that it does take more rain... it doesn’t just run into the pothole. We’re always learning and trying new things.” 

The Schroeders said they also enjoy staying up to date on agricultural matters, actively attending educational conferences and networking within the agriculture industry.

Additionally, beyond implementing best practices on their family farm, Dean also helps to helps to educate and support other families to do the same on their property as a supervisor with the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District.

– Scott Tedrick is the editor of the Renville County Register