Family farm honored at Iowa State Fair

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On Aug. 18 the Friedlein family was recognized at the Iowa State Fair as Century and Heritage Farm owners. From left are Jeff, Kari, and Larry Friedlein; Brandon and Margo Friedlein; and Nick and Taylor Chase and their three children, Levi, Maisyn and Sylvia. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

On Aug. 18 four generations of the Friedlein family of rural Guttenberg were honored at the Iowa State Fair as Century and Heritage Farm owners. To qualify for the prestigious award 40-acres of land must be owned by a family for at least 150 years. 

The farm's history dates back to George Kaufman, who bought and farmed the land near Guttenberg in 1872. Since that time seven generations of Kaufmans, Friedleins and Chases have responsibly cared for and expanded the land for the last 150 years, which includes an innovative landmark round barn built in 1916 to house dairy cattle.

Patriarch Larry Friedlein and his son, Jeff, and daughter-in-law Kari, and their children — Brandon and wife Margo, and Taylor and Nick Chase, along with their children, Levi, Maisyn and Sylvia —  all help out on the family farm. The families' close proximity to one another aids the well-oiled farming operation.

Larry shared his sentiments about the Century and Heritage Farm recognition and his family's dedication to the land. He said, "It makes me feel pretty darn good! It also makes me proud! Hopefully we can continue to keep it going for a long time."

In addition to preserving the farmland and historic round barn, the family also has 40 fully restored Oliver tractors. They put the tractors on display every couple of years for collectors to admire. 

The Friedleins have raised livestock in the past, but currently focus on crop production and seed dealership for Cornelius Seed of Bellevue. Jeff and Kari are grateful for their family's assistance and modern technology. "We have a tremendous amount of larger, more efficient equipment that allows us to plant our corn and beans in about four days, which helps a lot," they noted. "Also modern technology, such as cell phones, help us stay organized. We also get some much needed help at harvest time from our son and son-in-law. 

Nick and Taylor Chase enjoy the family togetherness. "We are all in it together! she exclaimed. "With the kids getting a little older, they are getting to learn and do some of the chores around the farm. They do mostly the animal chores and gardening duties. The kids love to help out in as many ways as we can allow them to. They like to help feed the chickens, cows, goats, cats, and dogs. In the summer, we all enjoy planting and picking veggies from the garden."

Brandon and Margo Friedlein reside on a previously recognized Heritage Farm that was passed down through his mother's side of the family. The ambitious couple focuses mainly on garden produce and pumpkins. "We sell our pumpkins through Highway 52 Flowers and will also bring some to the Guttenberg Farmers Market starting in mid-Sept. They commented. "We changed our market routine to pumpkins, squash and gourds only this year due to scheduling challenges throughout the summer. Margo still bakes for special orders upon request."

Although there is plenty of hard work to do on the farm, most of the family members also work off the farm. Jeff owns an excavating business, Brandon is employed as a credit officer at Central State Bank in Elkader, Nick is an RV technician at Brown's, Margo is a teacher and Kari and Taylor are para-educators, all at Clayton Ridge School. 

Larry still enjoys farming and plans to continue the old-fashioned way as long as he can. Jeff and Brandon are interested in expanding opportunities in agritourism to share the farm's unique history with others.

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