Owner Daniel Olson
The Norsk Farm outside of Lena has seen a lot of change to their operation over the years. In an effort to keep up with changing technologies, they’ve excelled at adapting while being on the leading edge of farming.
The farm is currently run by Daniel Olson, but explains his operation is a complete team, or family-run effort.
“The first Olson’s came here in 1887, so I’m seventh generation and I have some children that will hopefully be the eighth,” Daniel said of the farm’s history. “My folks are still here. My father is still working on the farm. My grandfather who is 87 still goes out and takes care of some calves every day too. On any given day we could have four generations that are working here.”
Recently, the Olson’s transitioned their farm to completely organic, which Daniel says hasn’t been too drastic of a change to how they had previously been operating.
“Five years ago, we started transitioning the farm to organic and that’s about a three-year process,” he said. “The main difference is that we can’t use things like herbicides or artificial chemicals on the animals. We have to be careful what kind of medicine we use and use more natural remedies.”
Olson added that they also have to be more in tune with their crop rotation, such as having a more aggressive rotation, so as not to plant the same crop multiple years in a row.
Norsk Farm has also taken their own initiative to focus on educating the community about agriculture. Similar to breakfasts on the farm in surrounding counties, they hold a Family Farm Day, which offers a hands-on look at farming.
“It started out as kind of a neighborhood, community open house where we just wanted to invite the neighbors out to the farm, get to spend the day a little more hands-on than the breakfasts on the farm events were,” Daniel said. “The first year 250 people showed up, the next year was 600 and the next was 900 and at some point it was getting to be just a little overwhelming, but I just feel we’re really blessed to grow up on a farm, to have our families grow up on the farm and it seems like we almost have a responsibility to let other people understand what agriculture is about.”
This year’s Family Farm Day event is scheduled on June 24 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The Olson’s also play a role in helping aspiring farmers from all over the country, as part of a special farm apprenticeship program. Over the last few years they’ve hired a number of employees through the Diary Grazing Apprenticeship program, a nationally accredited program that helps young people who wish to learn about farming.
“Part of that is an education component and part of it is just working and putting in hours that way,” Daniel explained as why they participate. “When they get done with the two years, they can actually walk away with a journeyman’s license and it’s really a neat opportunity and we’ve benefited from that on our farm as well.”
There are three apprentices and one intern on the Norsk Farm.