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Extension > Extension in your Community > Douglas > Extension In Your County > Articles > Congratulations to the Douglas County Farm Family of the Year

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Congratulations to the Douglas County Farm Family of the Year

The Branch family of Berry Ridge Farm in Alexandria has been named Douglas County’s “2018 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota.

Ann and Ron Branch grew up on family farms in Minnesota. Ann was an active 4-H member and Ron was honored as an FFA District Star Farmer and served as state FFA vice president. The couple met at the University of Minnesota where Ann earned a degree in home economics education and Ron in agriculture.

Ann and Ron purchased the land for their farm in 1984 and built a house a year later. They started selling produce in 1988.

In 1992, the Branches pioneered the use of high tunnels in the farm’s specialty crop operation and now the family has six high tunnels to maximize production on their 11-acre farm. The Branches’ sons, Carl and Eric, began working on the farm when they were young. At age 10 the boys used a Farm Service Agency Youth Loan to build their own high tunnel. Carl is enrolled at the University of Minnesota. Eric graduated from the U of M this spring and begins a graduate program in plant pathology at Cornell this fall.

The Branch family raises a wide variety of produce including strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, beets and cut flowers. Over the years, Berry Ridge Farm has hosted University of Minnesota on-farm research.

Ron has served as president of the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and is involved with other organizers that include the Douglas County Farm Bureau, Douglas County Master Gardeners and he helped organize the Minnesota Farmers Market Association. Ann helps at their local farmers market with demonstrations promoting the fresh produce sold by vendors.

The families were officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 9 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minn. Profiles of the 2018 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University’s farm family website, http://mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu/.  A local recognition was held on Saturday, August 18 prior to the 4-H Auction during the Douglas County Fair.  Pictured are (left to right) Ron Branch, Ann Branch and Douglas County Extension Committee Vice Chair Stephen Henry who presented the Branch family  a certificate and plaque.

Families receiving honors were selected by their local county Extension committees and have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture and agriculture production.

“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.

 

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