The Monticello-based Holker Brothers Farm, located on the north side of Pelican Lake, will be recognized as one of the 215 Minnesota Century Farms at the Minnesota State Fair this year.
Century Farms are awarded annually to families who apply from any county in Minnesota. The farms must be at least 100 years old, in continuous family ownership for that 100 years, and must be 50 or more acres in size.
The farms are chosen by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.
“As long as a farm family meets the qualifications of a century farm, they will be recognized,” said Kristin (Campbell) Harner, Public Relations Director of the Minnesota Farm Bureau. “The number given per county is not limited.”
The Monticello Holker Brothers Farm is celebrating its 100th year this year. According to current co-owner Ted Holker, Jr., the process of buying the farm started in the fall of 1913 but nothing was recorded until 1914.
The original Holker Brothers farm was bought by Herman, Jr. and Matilda Holker. It began as a 200-acre estate, which Herman and Matilda ran for 31 years while raising six sons and two daughters. After Herman passed away in 1946, two of his sons, Leo and Theodore, Sr. took over the farm and ran it along with Matilda until 1962. In that year, Theodore and his wife, Patricia, bought the farm and were the owners for 21 years. In 1983, two of their sons, Theodore, Jr. (Ted) and Christopher, bought the farm and still own and run it today.
Even though there can be no animals found on the 641-acre cash crop farm today, Ted says that throughout the years there have been many animals raised on the land.
“You name it, they had it,” he said. “But the last of the cows went out in 1996.”
The architecture of the farm has changed drastically throughout the years as well.
“There are no original buildings left,” Ted said.
Since 1914, there have been several types of crops grown on the farm, including barley, oats and flax. Presently they grow corn, beans, wheat and alfalfa. According to Ted, most of the crops go to the Twin Cities.
“The wheat is all sent to the mill,” he added.
Some of the farm’s well-known sweet corn can be found for sale at their farm as well.
As Century Farm award recipients, Ted and Chris will receive a commemorative sign and a certificate signed by the State Fair and Minnesota Farm Bureau presidents, as well as Governor Mark Dayton.
According to State Fair Marketing and Communications Manager Brienna Schuette, the Century Farm program, which was started in 1976, has been very successful.
“[The program] started back in 1976 to commemorate family farms in Minnesota,” she said. “The State Fair’s roots are in agriculture and almost all of the exhibitors who show animals and crops here at the fair come from family farms, so we wanted to celebrate those things and honor the people who are most important to our state’s agricultural industry.”
Since the program began, almost 10,000 Minnesota farms have been honored.
“And we still get dozens of applications annually for new Century Farms,” Schuette said.
In fact, this is not the first Holker Family farm to be recognized as a Minnesota Century Farm. In 2003, Jerome and Helen Holker celebrated the 100th anniversary of their 160-acre farm in Beardsley, Minn., located in Big Stone County. Jerome also puts out a Holker Family newsletter every so often full of news and information about the large Holker Family, who raise farms all over the Midwest. According to Ted, there are a total of around 30 Holker Farms still running today, including three in the Monticello area.
Kendra Hartsell is a freelance writer for the Monticello Times.