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University of Minnesota Extension

Mower County Farm Family

Jon and Ruth Jovaag

Three generations of Jovaags are currently involved in the family farm in southeast Minnesota. The first generation, Arvid and Lois, began farming the land in 1981 and are still very much involved today. Their wisdom and life experience are immensely valued, and they are asked regularly for advice. The second generation, Jon and Ruth, along with Jon’s sister, Kari, work full-time on the farm. The third generation, Jon and Ruth’s teenage children, are Alex, Ava, Archer and Alayna.

Jon and Ruth work to keep alive the farm’s traditions of soil health and land stewardship. They have added new enterprises and pursuits to the farm and have diversified the operation to support their family.

One such pursuit started seven years ago by certifying a small part of the farm as organic. Since then, more fields have been certified each year and the entire farm should be certified organic next year. Along with farming organically, Jon and Ruth enjoy trying new methods to build organic matter and improve soil health: roller-crimping soybeans into standing rye, more crop rotations, cover crops and interseeding. The Jovaags also raise antibiotic-free pigs in a farrow-to-finish deep-bedded system, Katahdin sheep, and they are starting grass-fed beef and growing organic produce for local markets. 

The Jovaags are members of the Land Stewardship Project, and their farm has been certified by the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. They’ve hosted many field days on their farm and continue to support a wide range of farming, food and environmental organizations.

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