DUNDEE — For Corey and Lori Bunting, 2019 marks the 112th year the 280-acre property — six and a half miles south of Westbrook and eight miles northeast of Dundee — has been in their family.
“It’s land that’s belonged to Corey’s family for over 100 years, and you have to acknowledge that,” said Lori, who prompted her husband to apply for Minnesota Century Farm status this year. “He doesn’t like to make a big deal out of it, but it’s family ground.”
First purchased by Fred W. Lidtke in 1907, the farm was later passed on to Corey’s grandmother, Mildred (Lidtke) Bunting, and her husband, Howard.
“Mildred was very German,” smiled Lori, fondly recalling her grandmother-in-law who died in 1998. “She loved her warm beer, and she loved to polka, and she was a hairdresser who used the porch for her hairdressing work.”
Today, Corey and Lori own 48 of the original 280 acres, while his parents, Voyne and Dianne Bunting, and uncles share ownership of the remaining 232 acres. (Corey’s aunt, Leah Tammeus, died in 2008.) Voyne Bunting continues farming to this day.
Corey and Lori, who will celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary in August, moved onto the original homestead — and into the farmhouse Corey’s great-grandparents built in 1921 — 25 years ago.
“I grew up on my parents’ place three miles east of there, and we moved in when my grandma Mildred moved to town,” explained Corey.
Corey studied graphic design at St. Cloud State University after graduating from Westbrook High School; he has been employed in that field for 26 years, the last nine at Bedford Industries in Worthington.
Lori, meanwhile, was raised on a farm near Storden. She has worked as a purchasing specialist at Merck in Worthington for 26 years.
Together, the couple has three children of their own — young adult sons Levi and Cole, and daughter Camryn, who will be a senior at Westbrook-Walnut Grove High School next fall.
“Our middle son has made the comment he would love to live here someday,” said Corey. “He’s interested in farming, as well as fishing and hunting.”
Although Corey farms only part-time (along with his brother, Gregg), he appreciates the work his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents put in to maintain the farm for so long.
“We just got rid of the cattle, so there’s corn and soybeans,” he said. “My grandpa built the barn in the 1940s, and we have re-tinned that.
“There are three old white pine trees at the back of the house, and there’s a humongous maple that’s been around for a long time,” Corey noted.
“And they had a great big garden, and flowers all over the place,” Corey added. “We’re trying to keep that going, but with this year’s weather we’re still just trying to get the beans in the ground.”
Lori and Corey started dating when they were 16 years old, and they’ve been together ever since.
“He is fun to be with — he’s a jokester, and I’m more serious — so he brings out the fun in me,” said Lori.
Corey praised his wife. “She’s a caring person — really giving and hard-working — and that balances us,” he said.
A testament to the value the collective Bunting family places on their Century Farm is its establishment as the site of an annual family get-together, usually over the Fourth of July holiday.
“We have between 25 and 35 family members show up,” said Lori. “Usually we have salads, hamburgers and fruits — and Dianne is the traditional salad and bar maker.”
Additionally, Voyne and Bob enjoy returning to the acreage where they grew up to see what improvements Corey and Lori might have made.
“It’s nice they can come back and celebrate with us,” said Lori.
And Corey’s day job at Bedford only enhances his appreciation for the farm life to which he was born.
“I sit inside behind a desk at work all day and look out the window,” he said. “So I love to come home and get outside.
“I definitely look forward to that.”