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2020 Lake County Farm Family of the Year


Jon and Michelle Fogelberg named 2020 Lake County Farm Family of the Year

LAKE COUNTY, Minn. — Growing up in the city, Jon Fogelberg was uncomfortable with the hustle and bustle of the urban atmosphere. He longed to explore the wide open spaces that Lake County offers. Jon considered himself outdoorsy, but had no farm experience. Twenty seven years ago, he and wife Michelle, who grew up on a dairy farm, purchased 40 acres in Lake County. The land had been homesteaded in the early 1900’s with a succession of owners and was previously operated as a dairy farm. Located just 13 miles north of downtown Two Harbors, the farm allows Jon and Michelle the freedom to enjoy their many interests and fulfill their lifelong dreams.

Jon and Michelle’s hobby farm was home to a small flock of sheep until 6 years ago, when they put Michelle’s knowledge gathered from her time on her family farm into practice and purchased 2 horses. During the years they had sheep, Michelle used the wool to weave and knit, Jon learned how to put up hay and they both looked forward to each lambing season. The lambs would be sold to a friend for him to raise as meat animals.

In what appears to be decades of an established garden, the well-amended soil provides plenty of space for growing vegetables, blueberries and to develop their extensive flower gardens which creates a perfect habitat for the thriving honey bees. Jon joined the Northeast Minnesota Beekeepers Association and quickly learned how multi-faceted beekeeping can be. Now, he meticulously tracks the activity of the bees for happier bees and that translates to greater production of honey and pollination.

In the spring of each year, Jon and Michelle gather their spiles and buckets to tap their maple trees. They then cook down the sap in their sugar shack. The annual harvest usually nets approximately 5 gallons of maple syrup which they gift to others and enjoy themselves all year long.

In 2008, they were selected as one of the hosts for Lake County’s annual Mystery Garden Tour where they shared their secrets of growing faster ripening tomatoes utilizing red mulch mats. Today, they have a 24’ x 12’ high tunnel allowing them to enjoy tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cantaloupe well into November.

Jon also volunteers as a weather observer with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) which is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow). By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive website, they aim to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications.

For as long as they have owned the farm, Jon has been volunteering at the Forestry Field Days held annually in Duluth and sponsored by the Society of American Foresters. A career forester and former member of the society, Jon demonstrates his portable sawmill as one of the rotating stations to the near 500 area 5th graders that participate in the day-long event. Jon also provides lumber for many of the farm projects with his sawmill.

Michelle completed the training to become a Master Gardener years ago and has used her knowledge in their gardens that was gained from the course. She recently became a member of the Lake County Extension Committee. For more information on the Farm Family program, please visit https://mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu/

Last modified: 08/31/2020

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