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University of Minnesota Extension

Itasca County Farm Family

John and Lisa Rajala family

The John and Lisa Rajala family operation was born of the broader Rajala Forest Products company in Itasca County. John is the fourth generation of the forestry family. John worked with his father, Jack, for decades developing innovative silviculture and forest management practices specific to northern Minnesota and its native tree species. John and Lisa and their three children continue to develop and apply their “boots on the ground and hands-on” silviculture methods to thousands of acres of ecologically restored forest lands.

The Rajalas apply silviculture methods in harvest, regeneration, and tending. This means carefully planned harvests that mimic natural disturbances of wind, fire, drought, and pathogens. The variable density, continuous cover forests that result from regeneration harvests are then carefully and intentionally encouraged to regenerate naturally from adjacent tree seed. Tending techniques include quality selection, spacing, protection from deer, pruning, and intermediate thinning harvests.

Products from the various harvest stages include biomass for carbon neutral energy, industrial lumber products, framing lumber, and fine timber and millwork products.

 John and Lisa are co-leaders of the operation. Their daughter Sarah, a silviculturist, also offers medical support. Daughter Claire is a board member of Rajala Woods Foundation and is also a silviculturist. Their son Ethan began full time work in the business this spring, is silvicultural team leader and offers marketing support.

The Rajala family participates in a wide variety of agricultural and forestry organizations and activities, especially pertaining to supporting natural, ecological forests and prairies, protecting pristine water resources, and those that work to resist, adapt to, and mitigate climate change.

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