Life on the farm

Published 11:46 am Wednesday, August 1, 2012

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Five-generation family offers insight to public on modern agriculture

To a passerby, it could have looked like a sales pitch, seed seminar or the newest tractor demo at the Toquam farm near Blooming Prairie. Instead, it was free education for the public, up-close and personal.

Dozens of people gathered at the family’s five-generation farm on Tuesday for an event so simple in concept, but rarely heard of just several years ago.

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The goal?

Take those who are increasingly removed from the real aspects of everyday farms, who don’t know modern farm families or the ag economy and show it to them.

“If we don’t teach the story, someone else will tell the story, and it probably will not be accurate,” said Roger Toquam, now head of the family farm.

The Toquams and other area farmers mentioned the need for such seminars, as today’s consumers are increasingly disconnected from the producers of their food and other agricultural necessities.

That’s why the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, which is holding farm tours for its second summer, was at the Toquam’s farm on Tuesday. Still, Jessica Dornink, the communications specialist for MN Soybean who helped set up the Toquam farm tour, hoped for better. While area farmers, acquaintances and county commissioners attended Tuesday’s events, Dornink and farmers are trying to reach demographics further removed than that. Even Roger’s youngest son, Isaiah Toquam, knows it’s important to spread information about farming, which is still very family operated.

“This is important because we’ve got to get the real story on agriculture and why it is so important to the economy,” said Isaiah, a recent Blooming Prairie High School graduate with goals of farming.

Tuesday’s visitors not only saw farm technology, such as a GPS auto-steer system, modern grain storage facility and a hog facility, they heard how families like the Toquams use the newest techniques to preserve the land and reduce their chemical and material usage, too.

Each visitor received an informational packet with statistics and various soybean facts and finished off their visit with a free dinner. Perhaps the most important thing some took away, however, was the family feeling they experienced at the Toquams, and that in some ways farming has not changed that much.

“We are a true sense of a family farm,” Roger said. “We really enjoy working together.”