Second Harvest Farms, including Daniel, Curtis, Dave, Drew, Aaron and Lee Johnson, Oak Grove, was named the Anoka County 2012 Farm Family of the year by the University of Minnesota.
They were one of 76 families from around the state, one from each participating county recognized at a ceremony Aug. 9 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls.
Second Harvest Farms was established in 1927 when LeRoy Johnson received three pigs from his father-in-law as a wedding gift. Johnson did not have funds to purchase feed for the pigs, so he visited neighboring groceries and collected the waste produce for the hogs to eat.
This concept is still being used today through three Johnson farms, Second Harvest Farm Central, Inc., Second Harvest Farm North, Inc. Second Harvest Farm South, Inc. and Barthold Recycling.
Each day 13 trucks leave the farms to pick up 140 tons of food waste from restaurants, schools, nursing homes and other facilities. The food wastes are brought to the farm, cooked to 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes and fed to livestock.
The farms together produce 6,000 hogs annually. Cattle are also raised on one of the farms. Manure generated by the farms is sold to local farmers for fertilizer. The management team comprises Daniel Johnson (son of LeRoy), Curtis and David (Daniel’s sons), Aaron and Lee (Curtis’ sons), Drew (David’s son), owner of Barthold Recycling Pete Barthold (Daniel’s nephew), Luke, John, Nathan and Shane (Pete’s children) and niece Jan Prodcopio.
In the community, the families are members of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Oak Grove. They donate pigs to organizations for charity events featuring pig roasts. The farm supports Scouts and the Anoka County Food Shelf Golf Classic. The farm has been featured on TV specials, in the Star Tribune and can be seen on YouTube “Reuters Food Waste” and Anoka County’s website under “Pigs aren’t Picky.”
In making the presentation at Farmfest, Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension, said,” Farm families and agriculture are a major driver of Minnesota’s economy and the vitality of Minnesota’s rural communities.”
The Anoka County Extension Committee recognized Second Harvest at the County Farm Bureau meeting Aug. 13. The committee selects the County Farm Family of the Year. The committee receives nominations and conducts interviews and farm site visits with nominees.