DUST HANGS OVER THE LANDSCAPE like smoke. Hazy. The air dirty with debris kicked up by combines sweeping across corn and soybean fields in southern Minnesota. Harvest is well underway here as farmers bring in the season’s crops.
From back country gravel roads to the interstate, I’ve witnessed this scene unfolding before me in recent weeks. Combines chomping. Harvested corn and beans spilling into grain trucks.
Farmers work all hours of the day and night in the rush to finish gathering crops before winter arrives. In the dark of night, bright headlights spotlight fields. In daylight, sunlight filters through clouds of dust.
Harvest is part of my DNA by having been raised on a southwestern Minnesota crop and dairy farm. Decades removed from the land, I still take notice of the harvest. The smell. The hues. The hurry. I understand this season in rural Minnesota.
In nearby Northfield, I recently happened upon a bronze sculpture, “Harvest,” which had gone unnoticed by me. It’s been there since 2008 at Sesquicentennial Legacy Plaza along the Cannon River, near the post office, near Bridge Square. In all my visits to Northfield, to the Riverwalk area, I missed this public art created by Raymond Jacobson.
It’s beautiful, fitting for a community rooted in agriculture. The 3,000-pound sculpture symbolizes Northfield’s heritage of wheat farming and milling. Just across the river sits the Ames Mill, where the gristmill in the late 1860s produced 150 barrels of wheat daily.
In 1927, John Campbell of the Campbell Cereal Company took over the mill and began producing Malt-O-Meal hot cereal. Today Post Consumer Brands owns the mill and still makes that hot cereal. Dry cereal is manufactured at a nearby production facility. Many days the scent of cereal wafts over Northfield.
All of this—the smell of cereal, the “Harvest” sculpture, the historic Ames Mill—reminds me of the importance of agriculture in our region. It reminds me, too, of my rural roots. I am grateful for my farm upbringing. I am grateful, too, for those who today plant, tend and harvest crops. They are essential to our economy, feeding the world, providing raw product.
That this season of harvest is honored in a “Harvest” sculpture shows a deep appreciation for history, heritage and agriculture in Northfield. The public art gives me pause to reflect on inspiration in creativity. Today I celebrate the artistic interpretation of harvest displayed along the banks of the Cannon River.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
I remember the pumpkin picking this time of year growing up on our farm – those pops of orange amongst the shades of brown. I loved driving into Northfield as a teen and young adult and smelling cereal. I still eat Malt-O-Meal cereal – just had some this morning – ha! I do not think people realize all the food companies in MN (from cereal to canned meat to turkey to canned veggies, etc.). Happy Day – Happy Fall – Enjoy 🙂
It sounds like you hold delightful memories of Northfield and an appreciation for MOM cereal. And, yes, I agree that a lot of people are unaware of all the food companies here in Minnesota.
I enjoy seeing the tractors in the field. I’m grateful for farmers.
I appreciate your gratitude for farmers.
What a beautiful post about a place where farmers are, and were, the center of so many lives. This amazing piece of art is a fitting reminder of their import role. Having grown up as a part of all this must hold so many wonderful memories and make you so proud.
I am proud of my farm background. Thankful for it, really. And thankful for art like “Harvest.”
I do think that Minnesotans are closer (and feel closer) to their food source than in other parts of the nation. This year I am sure these grain harvests will be even more important due to the lack of harvests from the Western states and those lacking from Ukraine.
Nothing like traveling the county roads behind those grain trucks.😂
I agree. Minnesota crops will be more important than ever. And, yes, much patience is required this time of year when encountering farm equipment on the roads.
The harvest is truly a remarkable time on the farm. The day your post appeared, my younger sister, who lives on a farm in SW Minnesota, sent pictures to me and my older sister of the corn harvest there. She knew we would enjoy being reminded of these days from our growing up years on the farm near Owatonna. Your lovely post connecting harvest art and the farm scenes was a bonus.
How sweet of Colleen to send harvest pix your way. I hear from other native Minnesotans how much they appreciate glimpses of home on my blog.