By Adam Austing, University of Minnesota Extension, Wright County
The Farm Family Recognition Program has existed for more than 30 years and honors farm families from throughout Minnesota for their contributions to the agriculture industry and their local communities. All of the honored farm families have made significant contributions to Minnesota agriculture and their communities.
Spike’s Farm of Buffalo is Wright County’s Farm Family of the Year for 2021. Three generations of the family actively contribute to the farm, where they raise beef and pork. Kurt and Judy Spike, along with their sons Jon and Kris and Kris’ three children (Lily, Hunter and Kolby) also grow corn, soybeans, and hay on about 170 acres. Most of their crops are used to feed the cows and pigs.
The Spike family started farming in 1973. In 1974, they started a dairy operation, which expanded to about 50 cows in 1979. They continued milking until 1993, when they transitioned to a primarily beef operation. Through the years, they have successfully experimented with other forms of revenue, such as eggs from a small flock of chickens. Two years ago, Kris and Hunter wanted to start raising a couple sows and the Spikes have grown the pork side of the business since. Much of their business is done through relationships with local consumers and butcher shops.
Spike’s Farm location presents a unique situation. Adjacent to the farm is Buffalo High School. On the other three sides of the property are growing residential areas. Kurt and Judy appreciate the neighborly attitudes their new neighbors have brought with them, and some residents have said they enjoy seeing the cows in the pasture behind the farm site. This situation is not without challenges, though. Traffic makes it unsafe to move equipment to the fields at certain times of day. Narrow city streets with parked cars can make it difficult to maneuver large equipment. The family combats these challenges by communicating with the neighbors before spring fieldwork starts and planning ahead. Spike’s Farm illustrates difficulties some family farms see from growing urban areas, and even better illustrates how to work with neighbors to overcome these challenges.
Kurt and Judy have undoubtedly done a great job passing on their passion for agriculture. Kris’ kids help with chores after school and on weekends. Lily and Hunter are very active in FFA, with Lily even serving as an officer. Lily is also heading down to Iowa State University to pursue a degree in an agriculture-related field.
The Spike family is a tremendous family to represent Wright County farms. They know it’s possible that one day the growing City of Buffalo might present too many challenges to continue the farm in its location, but for now they are going to “do what we can the best we can,” as Kurt put it. To learn more about Spike’s Farm, visit their website at www.Spikesfarm.com. To learn more about the University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition Program, visit www.mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu or contact Wright County’s Extension educator for agriculture and horticulture, Adam Austing at firstname.lastname@example.org or (320) 249-5929.