Rhonda and Roger Toquam with their sons Isaiah (front), Josh (middle) and Brennen (back) were recognized Sunday at the Dodge County Fair. They will be honored again at Farmfest on August 8. Photo by LifeTouch
The Roger and Rhonda Toquam family of Blooming Prairie has been named Dodge County's "2013 Farm Family of the Year" by the University of Minnesota.
The first Toquams moved to Dodge County in 1939 when Clifford and Hannah Toquam bought 560 acres of farmland in Ripley Township. Only 45 acres of the farm was tillable, the rest was a slew and too wet to plant a crop. Clifford quickly realized the potential of this farmland but he needed to find a way to drain it first. Clifford and his neighbors organized and helped create a branch of the Ripley ditch system to help drain this area of Dodge County, shortly thereafter the Toquam farm received tile and soon the entire slew was productive farmland. This same "can do" attitude has carried through the four generations of Toquams that have called this part of Dodge County home. Roger and Rhonda began operating the farm in the late 1980's. All three of their sons farm with them, Brennen currently is a sales agronomist at Greenway Coop; Josh and Isaiah help with the daily activities. The Toquams promote the corn and soybean industry by entering a unit in the 4th of July parade each year and also the past few years sponsored radio ads where fun facts about ethanol, biodiesel and pork were given on the local radio station.
Roger serves on the Ripley Township board, Dodge County Corn and Soybean Growers Assocation and was recently elected to the Al Corn board of directors. Rhonda currently serves on the Dodge County FSA board and has served as a board member on the SE MN Ag Alliance. In 2012 the Toquams received the Dodge County Soil and Conservation farmer of the year award. In July they hosted the MN Soybean Growers Association "See for Yourself" tour, which targeted the non-farming public so that they could witness and see first hand modern farming equipment and technology and visit a modern hog facility, things that are commonly seen on family farms today. The Toquams have hosted a number of trade teams from countries like China and South Korea and have spoken to the local Chamber of Commerce about their family farm. This spring the Toquams were awarded "Farm Family Advocate of the Year" from the SE MN Ag Alliance.
The Toquams feel very strongly that farmers need to tell the story of all the positive things farmers are doing while providing safe and affordable food. This close-knit family credits faith in God, each other and love for the land as reasons why the family farm is now five generations strong. They feel being good stewards of the land is just as important as the financial success of farming.
The Toquam's are one of approximately 87 farm families from around the state, one from each participating county, being honored by the University this year.
The families will be officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 8 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, MN. Profiles of the 2013 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University's farm family website, http://mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu.
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."
The Toquam family were honored locally at the Dodge County Fair on Sunday, July 21.
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.