Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Saving barns November 9, 2010

EVEN THOUGH I HAVE NOT lived in the country since I was 17, I still define myself by my rural roots, my Minnesota prairie roots.

Those formative years of connecting to the land shaped and defined me as a person and as a writer.

Picking rocks, walking beans, doing chores, tending the garden—all taught me the value of good, honest labor. I will always appreciate my rural upbringing.

Clearly, I value the family farm. I also value barns, which possess a nostalgic hold on me. I love to photograph them, even if only in passing from a car window.



I photographed this barn in the Hammond/Zumbro Falls area along Wabasha County Road 70 in October.




Another Wabasha County barn.



A quick shot of a barn along Minnesota Highway 60 somewhere between Faribault and Wanamingo.


Unfortunately, many barns today are falling into piles of rotting lumber. Landowners cannot always afford to maintain them or choose not to maintain them.

But many barns have been beautifully-restored, sometimes converted to new uses. Organizations like Friends of Minnesota Barns support efforts to save barns as part of our rural heritage.

This Saturday the FoMB will hold its annual Barn of the Year Awards Reception from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the historic Brandtjen Farm Barn, 16965 Brandtjen Farm Drive, Lakeville. The 80-year-old dairy barn has been renovated as a clubhouse and community and recreation center for the Spirit of Brandtjen Farm housing development.

Barns contending for the 2010 award are owned by Paul Anderson of Pope County, John Lavander and Nan Owen of Isanti County, Eric and Shelly Liljequist of Wright County, and Lyle and Ann Meldahl of Fillmore County.

If you’re interested in attending this event, which includes a social hour, a tour of the Brandtjen barn, a talk by Minnesota Secretary of State and FoMB member Mark Ritchie and presentation of the Barn of the Year Awards, visit the FoMB website. Reservation deadline is November 10.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling