Celebrating the next generation of agriculture
KENYON -- Morgan and Keith Allen were having dessert at the closing banquet of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Leadership Conference held last month at Treasure Island Resort & Casino when they heard their names called for an award.
“Our jaws dropped,” Morgan said. “We were all smiles as we walked up (to the stage).”
Morgan, 34, and Keith, 37, of Kenyon were presented the Golden Pitchfork Award by the MFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, one of two awards given out for the program that engages young ag producers with leadership, education and networking opportunities.
“These awards recognize those who go above and beyond to continue to build our Young Farmers and Ranchers leadership programs,” committee chairwoman Kristy Miron said in an email announcing the recipients.
Keith has since aged out of the Young Farmers and Ranchers program — members must be 18 to 35 years old — but the couple served several years on the committee as representatives for the local district.
“It was our group that started the Golden Pitchfork Award because we wanted to honor individuals that had helped the Young Farmers and Ranchers program in the Minnesota,” Keith said, adding he and Morgan never expected they eventually would win the award themselves.
“We looked for somebody that was actively involved in Farm Bureau, promoted agriculture and participated in the activities that young farmers and ranchers do,” Morgan said about the award qualifications.
For the Allens, that involvement included several trips to Washington to meet with legislators on agriculture topics.
“It’s an opportunity to give a face to agriculture and tell our story to our representatives,” Morgan said.
“Not all of them have a rural background, so it’s important that they realize farmers are real people — we’re not just corporations.”
Morgan is a dairy nutritionist and Keith an independent seed dealer. Together they run Haycreek Farms, a 5-acre farm raising Oberhasli goats.
“The goats were a really good fit for us,” Morgan said, describing Oberhasli as quiet, docile and small-framed. She grew up raising the breed and still has a 15-year-old goat that was the first owned in her name as a teenager.
In addition to raising and showing the animals, the Allens started selling goat milk a few years ago to Singing Hills Dairy, an artisan goat cheese dairy in Nerstrand, Minnesota, northwest of Kenyon.
“We’ve liked that for our own use and cheese,” Morgan added, noting Oberhasli milk has a mild taste similar to cow’s milk.
The Allens said they joined Farm Bureau as a way to be involved in the agriculture community.
“When you’re younger you’ve got 4-H, FFA and in college dairy club and animal science club,” Morgan said. “And after we got married, we were looking for another ag organization to be a part of.”
Keith said Farm Bureau and the Young Farmers and Ranchers program are great ways to meet fellow producers and learn about their operations.
“If anyone’s interested in agriculture, I would highly recommend getting involved,” he said. “It opens your eyes to how many different aspects of agriculture we have in the state of Minnesota.”