Dean Stenberg is a third-generation farmer with a 240-acre farm just south of Grove City. This year, the Minnesota Farm Bureau and State Fair officially recognized the farm as a Century Farm, one that has been in the family for 100 years.
To earn the recognition, the farm must be under continuous family ownership for at least 100 years, and have at least 50 acres or more. Recipients also receive a commemorative sign, as well as a certificate signed by Gov. Tim Walz and presidents of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and State Fair.
Dean's grandparents bought the farm from the Krogstad family in 1920. They operated it until his parents took over in 1937.
“It was tough in the '30s when my grandparents hung on to the farm, and that's all about they could do,” Dean said.
Stenberg's father graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences in 1934 in preparation for taking over the farm, and he did just that three years later. After 48 years, Dean took over from his parents and has been farming the land his grandparents bought since 1982.
“I got a four-year degree from the U of M because I knew I wanted to come back to the farm,” Dean said.
Although the original farm was just 120 acres, it has since doubled. His parents bought an additional 70 acres not far from the original plot in 1970, and 15 years later Stenberg bought another 50 acres about a half-mile away, bringing the total to 240 acres.
Dean's farm is mostly crops these days, but it included livestock for the better part of the past century. His parents began farming dairy cows in the 1950s.
“We had dairy cattle up until a year ago,” Dean said. “I milked cows until 2004, then I raised young calves, heifers mostly. Now it's mostly corn and soybeans, still have some alfalfa.”
Not much from the original property remains. The first barn burned down in 1938, then a new one was built. In 1949, his parents wanted to modernize the old home but opted instead to build a new one. Over the next 70 years, several more additions were made throughout the farm.
Although the farm has remained in the family for 100 years, Dean is not sure how much longer that will continue. There is no one next to take over the farm after him, and right now it would be left to his nieces and nephews, who he believes would most likely sell the property.
But as long as Dean can keep farming, that's what he's going to do.
“I'm 71, keeping on farming," he said. "I'm not sure how many more years are left.”