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Ottertail family named county's Farm Family of the Year

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The Malone family of Ottertail has been named Otter Tail County's 2011 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.

The Malone children are the sixth generation to live on the Malone family farm, which was started by Marea Marone's great-great grandfather, who moved from Germany.

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Justin and Marea Marone took over the farm in 2001 with a beef cattle operation while both working off the farm full-time. In 2004, they started milking cows. One year later, they began the 3-year transition to organic.

Currently, the Malone family has an organic dairy farm where they milk 180 cows in a swing 16 parlor. They raise all of their own replacements and farm about 1,000 acres using organic farming practices. They employ three people fulltime to assist with regular chores and fieldwork. Justin and Marea have five children who are just beginning to learn how to care for the farm.

The Malone family is involved in 4-H, homeschooling and with their church. They also take part in farm business management class through Central Lakes College, making their farm available for those who want to learn about general farming, organic farming or farm facilities.

The Malones are one of 75 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 scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 4 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minn. Profiles of the 2011 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."

Farmfest runs Tuesday, Aug. 2 through Thursday, Aug. 4 at the Gilfillan Estate, near Redwood Falls, Minn. Event hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 2-3 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 4. Admission is $10 per person, and those 18 and under are admitted free. More information on Farmfest is available at www.farmshows.com/ffst.

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