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University of Minnesota Extension

Pennington County Farm Family

Neil and Nicole Peterson

Neil Peterson’s great-great-grandfather began farming in Pennington County in the 1800s. Neil’s grandfather moved to the family’s current farmstead in 1939 and raised crops to feed the family’s dairy herd. Neil’s grandfather and father gradually increased the farm size until Neil’s dad took over in the early 1950s. At that time, the Petersons had a small dairy herd and raised small grains and sunflowers. In the 1970s, Neil added rental acres and a small cow/calf herd to the operation. Following the passing of Neil’s parents in 1999, Neil took over sole ownership of the farm. In 2010, Neil and Nicole began growing fruits and vegetables and produced canned goods to sell at the Thief River Falls Farmers Market. In 2015, the Petersons launched a small CSA and five years later sold their beef herd.

Currently, the Petersons’ farm consists of 1,100 acres of rotating crops of soybeans, alfalfa, oats, wheat, and corn. The family grows 30 to 40 varieties of fruits and vegetables and over 60 varieties of pumpkins are grown in high tunnels and on an additional 15 acres.

All of Neil and Nicole’s children and grandchildren are involved in the farm including their daughter Cydnee and her fiancé, Drew Lystad; daughter CeJae and her husband, Brady Bakken, and their kids, Aiden and Harper; the Petersons’ son, Alec Jalowiec and his wife, Emily, along with their children, Gannon, Ryker and Rhett; daughter Natasha and her husband, Dameon Eakes, and their child, Daylin. Son Maxton takes care of a variety of jobs as well.

Nicole’s father, Cecil Anderson, keeps the operation’s machinery running and her mother, Maryel, picks every last chokecherry.

Neil has served Pennington County as a commissioner since 2011 and is currently the board chair. Neil also devotes time to a wide array of local organizations and committees including serving as chair of the Northern Counties Land Use Board and serving on the Quin County Community Health Board, the Thief River Falls Airport Authority, and the Northwest Juvenile Training Center Board. He is on the Pennington County Extension Committee and the Association of Minnesota Counties Environment and Natural Resource Committee.

Nicole is the coordinator of the Red Kettle Campaign for the Pennington County Salvation Army. She is also involved in the Pennington County One Vegetable Community Group and the Pennington County Fair Board.

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