County Conservationists of the Year
From no-till farming to wetland restoration; nutrient management and integrated pest management; native buffers; water and sediment control basins, Kevin and Candace Lunde's farm in rural Lake Park is a study in modern conservation practices.
So it's not too surprising that the Lundes were honored as Conservationists of the Year by the Becker Soil & Water Conservation District.
Located on the site of the former Becker County Children's Home, the farm has been in the Lunde family since 1949, when Kevin's parents, Harold and Lorraine Lunde, purchased and renovated the property into a working farm operation.
"I grew up on this farm, in this house," Kevin says.
Kevin took over the operation in 1991. Though Harold and Lorraine retired from farming several years ago, they have continued to live nearby, and lend a hand when needed.
"They've always helped us with the farm," says Candy, who in addition to working with her husband on the farm, is also employed as a special education paraprofessional at Lake Park-Audubon High School in Lake Park.
She is also active in the St. Frances Church Women's Club and the Community Cantata in Lake Park.
"I couldn't have done it if Lorraine didn't babysit the kids," says Candy, whose youngest daughter, Chantel, will graduate from LP-A next spring.
The three older children all graduated from LP-A as well; eldest daughter Sheena just got married this past September, and works as a psychologist in the Twin Cities.
Daughter Tristan just graduated from St. Thomas University this year, with a degree in neuroscience, while son Bryce is a sophomore at St. Thomas.
In addition to the conservation award, the Lundes have also been honored with both the King Agassiz Award (1996) and the Farm Family of the Year Award (2001) -- but Kevin modestly attributes that to the decreased pool of farmers to choose from in the lakes area.
"The farms are getting bigger, so the number of farmers is getting smaller," he says.
Currently, the Lundes operate a 2,000-acre farm (some of it owned, some of it rented) where they raise corn and soybeans.
Though Candy says all of the children worked on the farm while they were growing up, and Bryce still helps his dad out during the summer, none of them have followed Kevin into the farming industry.
Though he does not have plans to pass on the farm to his children, Lunde remains active in the industry, serving on the Cenex Cooperative board in Lake Park and the Farm Service Agency County Committee. He is also a member of the board of directors for Lake Park Cuba Insurance.
He also plans to continue his conservation efforts, with the help of the Becker SWCD and NRCS.
"It's good for the environment, good for the soil, good for everybody involved," he says of his continued conservation efforts.
More wetland conservation and sediment control basins are in the works, he said.
The Lundes will officially be honored with other county winners of the Conservationist of the Year award on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at an awards luncheon hosted by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) as part of their annual conference in St. Paul.