I OFTEN WONDER, as I travel past farm sites in southern Minnesota, how these places will look in 50, even 20, years.
Will once grand barns still stand? Will farmhouses be abandoned? Will corporate ag operations completely replace family farms?
Already the evolution is well underway. Many barns no longer hold livestock, serving instead as storage sheds. Rural houses are not so much farmhouses as dwellings for those working off the farm to supplement their farm income.
Independent farmers either quit, expand or try to hang on for one more year. Some have become innovative—diversifying, organizing, working together to grow and sell local.
The rural landscape is changing, shaped by markets and weather and operating costs and government regulations, issues that have always affected farming. Technology, too, now factors into agriculture.
Some 40-plus years removed from the farm, I’ve witnessed the changes from afar. None of my five siblings stayed on the farm, although two work in ag fields. I no longer have a direct link to the land. And because of that, my children and grandchildren are losing that generational connection to farming, to a way of life. This saddens me. They prefer city over country.
And so I continue to photograph, documenting with my camera lens the places of rural Minnesota. Therein I present a visual history, a memory prompt and an expression of appreciation for the land which shaped me.
FYI: This Saturday, February 8, from 1 – 4 p.m., embrace and celebrate locally-grown and crafted during Family Day at the Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market. In addition to vendors, you’ll find hands-on art activities for kids, games, healthy recipes and more. The market is located inside the Paradise Center for the Arts along Central Avenue in the heart of historic downtown Faribault.
These photos were taken last Saturday along Minnesota State Highway 21 on my way to Montgomery.
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling