BACKUS — University of Minnesota Extension Service recognized Ken and Hope Johnson as Cass County Farm Family of the Year during the Tuesday, May 19, Cass County Board meeting. Due to the coronavirus circumstances, the Johnsons were unable to attend the meeting to accept the award, but Greg Booth and Susan Harrison representing the Cass County Extension Committee shared the background information with the board.
The Johnsons grew up in the Leader/Poplar area where they met in 4-H. They lived for a short time in the Twin Cities before building and refurbishing an old farmstead in the Poplar area. This has been their home for the past 41 years, where they have raised purebred Suffolk sheep, commercial sheep, beef cattle and guard dogs.
Currently, the land is used mostly for grass hay and pasture land, but in the past was used to grow corn.
Over the years they raised eight children — KaAnn, Jim, Gene, Susie, Janet, Katie, Bill and Karen — and have 18 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. The children and their families are very supportive and help out whenever they can, Harrison said. The Johnsons both served on the local town board, were 4-H leaders and are supporters of local FFA chapters. Ken Johnson also was a Cass County commissioner and worked closely with two sheep organizations.
Currently the farm is owned by two of their children, but Ken Johnson continues to have several sheep and tends to the couple’s garden. Their son Gene Johnson has a farm nearby and currently rents land for pasture and hay, as he plans to raise cattle on the farm. The Johnsons anticipate the farming tradition will continue on the property throughout the generations of their family.
The Farm Family of the Year Program works to recognize families who have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture in their communities.