By Katherine Gathje, Interim Extension Educator
The Turck family of Litchfield has been named Meeker County’s “2021 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota.
Steve and Joan are the fourth generation of the family to farm on the Turck farm. In the past, the Turcks raised registered Hampshire hogs and were crop farmers. They also operated a dog boarding kennel. Currently, the family grows corn, soybeans and Christmas trees; they also have land in CRP.
The Turcks began planting Christmas trees 40 years ago and have since expanded to a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm. In the early 2000s, the Turcks added deciduous trees to the tree planting operation. The family devotes about 100 acres to their retail and wholesale tree business and the remainder of their land is in corn and soybeans.
The Turcks grow and sell six different types of Christmas trees; they operate a seasonal gift shop and sell custom designed balsam and Fraser fir wreaths. They also sell a variety of evergreen and deciduous trees for transplanting.
The Turcks get help from their immediate family and hired youth and adults. Their son Jesse and his wife, Jean, work as architects in the metro area. Jesse and Jean, along with their three children, provide help seasonally and whenever they are able. Steve and Joan’s son Nathan is a chiropractor and along with his wife, Jessica, a photographer, and their three children, provide help wherever needed.
Steve and Joan have been involved in the Litchfield Area Mentorship Program. Steve was a coach for the Litchfield Youth Wrestling Program, a board member and past president of the MN Christmas Tree Growers Association and a longtime member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Pheasants Forever.
Joan is a retired nurse and volunteers time with the Litchfield Area Hospice and volunteers at the family’s church. Steve and Joan have been supporters and leaders with 4-H and FFA.
The families will be officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 5 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls. Profiles of the 2021 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University’s farm family website. The Turck Family will also be recognized during the Meeker County Fair on Saturday, August 7 at 5 p.m.
Honored families are chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to their communities and to enhancing and supporting agriculture.
“These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota’s economy and the vitality of Minnesota’s rural communities,” said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension. “The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.”
Along with Farmfest, University units sponsoring the recognition event include University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine.