Weather Forecast


Riestenbergs recognized as 2009 'U of M Farm Family'

The Mark and Annettee Riestenberg family of Perham has been named Otter Tail County's "2009 Farm Family of the Year" by the University of Minnesota.

The Riestenberg family farm was started by Mark's great grandfather in the late 1890s. Mark and Annette bought the farm in 1990 after working with Mark's uncle for a few years. After buying the farm, the Riestenbergs put in irrigation. Today they farm 750 acres with two-thirds being irrigated edible beans, corn, and alfalfa. They also market about 10,000 pigs a year in a wean to finish operation. Mark does a majority of the work and his family helps when they need. His wife, Annette, is a RN and gives him great moral support. His sons, Joseph and Andrew, do the pig unloading, pressure wash the farm, and do multi-purpose field work. His daughters, Erica, Jennifer, and Mary, are good with young pigs, giving shots, and unloading pigs.

Mark is involved in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Ag in the Classroom, 4-H, Operation Main Street (talking to groups about pork), Knights of Columbus, and Minnesota Pork Producers in East Otter Tail.

The Riestenbergs are one of 73 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. 6 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minn. Profiles of the 2009 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University's farm family website,

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

"The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contribution to agriculture and their communities," said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension. "There is no standard definition of a Minnesota family farm. The one factor they all have in common is that the families work together to make their farm successful. That farm family work ethic is the major contributor to the success of Minnesota communities and Minnesota's agriculture."

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.

Farmfest runs Aug. 4-6 at the Gilfillan Estate, near Redwood Falls, Minn. Event hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 4 and 5, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 6. Admission is $8 per person, and those 18 and under are admitted free. More information on Farmfest is available at