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University of Minnesota Extension

Saint Louis County Farm Family

Helstrom Farms

The Helstrom farm sits on land that was originally surveyed in 1867. Jacob Helstrom came to America from Finland in 1892, was married three years later and, with his wife, Sanna, had three sons, Jake, John and Matt. The family lived in New Hampshire before heading to Hibbing. Soon after, two more children, Karl and Emmy, came along and the family laid claim to 160 acres near Hibbing in 1904. Three more children were born on the farm, Fred, Verne and Albert. Fred eventually took over the farm from his father. Fred married Savelle and they had eight children, including their son, Jim, who would later live on the farm.

The farm is now run by Jim’s son, Mike, and his family. Mike and his son, Jason, spent time working in the iron ore mines around Hibbing in addition to running their conventional farm. Everything changed when the father and son attended a grazing conference sponsored by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. The practice of mob grazing where cattle are used as a tool for repairing abused and depleted soils was discussed and the idea hit home for the Helstroms. From then on, antibiotics, supplements, hormones and any other additive would move aside so the natural progression and process of nature could run its course.

The family’s grass-fed beef operation is run by Mike and his wife, Carolyn, along with their son, Jason, and his wife, Charity, with the couple’s six children: Kaleb, Aaliyah, Olivia, Kalven, Alyssa and Kolten. The kids range from ages five to thirteen and help any place their parents can get them involved. One of their main responsibilities is taking care of pastured chickens in the summer. Beef is sold by direct marketing to consumers with the internet playing an important role.

Mike is a board member of the Northeast Minnesota Forage and Grasslands Council, a member of the local volunteer fire department, and serves on the local township board. Jason and Charity are active in their church, they serve on the board of an area homeschool group where Charity teaches preschool and the whole family volunteers at the Salvation Army Food Shelf. Jason has served on the board of the NEMFGC and on the St. Louis County Valley Livestock Association board.

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