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Tungland century farm spans five generations

Wendy and Tim Tungland (from left) are shown on their Minnesota Century Farm with grandson Kason, son-in-law Justin Farmer, daughter Tami Farmer, and grandchildren Zadi, Regan, Aiven and Maci. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)

LAKEFIELD — While 100 years of continuous family ownership is noteworthy, Tim Tungland believes the 150-year mark isn’t out of the question for Hunter Township land he and his wife, Wendy, own.

Tim and Wendy have owned their quarter-section since 1989, when they purchased the land from Tim’s parents, Milo and Ella Tungland. Being that one of Tim and Wendy’s daughters has five children, they feel it’s likely the newly recognized Minnesota Century Farm will remain in the family for many years to come.

After all, that generation carries the last name of Farmer, but just one part of the family and property history.

Tim is the great-grandson of Tjol Tungland, who arrived in the U.S. from Norway in 1884. One of Tjol’s sons was Gust Tungland, who was 8 years old at the time he and his family came to America.

“Tjol started the town of Garden City, Iowa,” Tim recalled. “He had six boys and a girl, and what happened was that they basically ran out of land to farm. There was inexpensive land up here and opportunity, so Gust came to Lakefield.”

Gust purchased a half-section of farmland upon arriving in Jackson County, but would sell that and buy in 1914 the quarter-section that his great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren call home today.

In addition to growing corn, oats and alfalfa on the land, Gust — who was also a livestock buyer in Lakefield — had cattle, too. He also had another farm located one mile south and two miles east of his other property that will achieve Minnesota Century Farm status in 2020.

“That’s where he lived,” Tim said of the other farm. “This place was rented out into the ’30s. … Then, when my dad, Milo, came back from World War II in ’45, married my mom, Ella, in 1947 … and they farmed the place..

“Grandpa passed away in 1966, and my parents bought the farm from their estate in 1967. They had it all the way up until 1989, when they moved to town and Wendy and I bought it.”

Many of the farm’s original buildings are gone now, but several new structures have been added. Perhaps the most noteworthy structure no longer on the property — it has been sold and moved to another site — is the home that Tim lived in with his family at the time of his birth.

“When I was married in ’77, my parents had been living at the old home,” Tim explained. “That’s when the other house was built, and Mom and Dad moved into it while Wendy and I moved into the house I was born in.”

In 1989, Tim’s parents moved into Lakefield, allowing Tim and Wendy to relocate into the newer residence on the farm. At that time, Tim and Wendy’s oldest daughter, Teri Jo, was 11, and second daughter Tami was 9.

“The old house sat empty for a few years, until Tami married Justin in 2002. They moved into that old house, and their oldest daughter (Regan, now 11) was born there.”

Tim and Wendy built a home on Pearl Lake in 2004, freeing up their newer farm home for Tami, Justin and family. Tami and Justin now own the buildings on the property, and Tim and Wendy own the land.

The match of Tami and Justin seems ideal as far as the future of the farm is concerned. The couple met at Iowa State University, where they both earned agronomy degrees. Like Tami, Justin was raised on a farm — he grew up in southeast Iowa — and they each knew early on that farming was a way of life they wished to continue as adults.

Justin’s last name, Farmer, also couldn’t be more appropriate. Plus, with five children — Regan, Kason, Aiven, Maci and Zadi — it’s probably a safe bet that at least one of the them will own and farm the land someday.

“It’s got as good a chance as anything of staying around,” Tim said of the farm place.

“The kids are picking rock this year and helping out in other ways,” Tami added. “They’re hard workers.”

Tim and Wendy, along with Tami and Justin, now have a partnership in farming, and Justin also has a Pioneer seed dealership in Lakefield. Wendy, for her part, is no mere farmer’s spouse.

“There’s nothing she can’t do as far as farming goes,” Tim said of his wife. “She can drive any piece of equipment.”

It doesn’t hurt that Wendy, too, grew up on a farm. Wendy Rossow grew up on a farm west of Lakefield that she and her husband currently farm now; she and Tim were high school sweethearts.

“If I could go back and change anything, I wouldn’t,” Tim said. “Nothing at all.”

Daily Globe Managing Editor Ryan McGaughey may be reached at 376-7320.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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