Heggen family honored with Quasquicentennial Farm award
September 16. 2013 7:34AM
The Heggen family of Brandon was honored for 125 years of family farm ownership – although it dates back 141 years – during a special program at the South Dakota State Fair on Aug. 29. They received their Quasquicentennial Farm award from the South Dakota Farm Bureau and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.
The Heggen farm in Brandon Township, Minnehaha County, has been in the family since 1872, when it was established by Juul Oleson Heggen. The farm has been passed down from father to son for four generations, now owned by Leo Heggen and his wife Joanne. The fourth, fifth, and sixth generations of Heggens on the family farm were represented at the ceremony.
“When a family owns a farm or ranch for a century or more, it is a remarkable milestone that should absolutely be celebrated. The South Dakotans who settled on these prairies endured much hardship, and their legacy lives on in their family members who still care for the same land today,” said Scott VanderWal, a family farmer from Volga and president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, which sponsors the Century Farm award program.
Family patriarch, 78-year-old Leo Heggen was born on the farm and never left. “After graduation I started farming, well even before graduation I was farming,” he said. “It kind of grows on you. I still enjoy seeing a new calf born and a new crop come up in the spring. It’s been a good life.”
The Heggens, who’ve been married for “50 some years,” according to Leo, are parents to five children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Their eldest son, Russell, lives in Canton. Daughter Monica Nussbaum lives on a farm near Garretson. Daughter Lori Deters and son Bruce both reside within a mile of the Heggen homestead, and daughter Becky is a Brandon resident.
Leo continues to help his son Bruce with the family farm where they raise corn, beans and alfalfa.
“We used to have dairy, now we just have stock cow calves,” he said.
Heggen hopes the four-generation farm family in the family for years to come.
“Bruce has got a little boy, Juul (named after Leo’s great-grandfather, Juul Oleson Heggen). He’s only 4 years old, but he could be another generation (of Heggens to farm the land),” Leo said.
This year, 59 families were honored with the Century award for 100 years of ownership and 23 were honored with the Quasquicentennial award for 125 years of family ownership. Since the program began in 1984, South Dakota Farm Bureau and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture have recognized more than 2,700 farm and ranch families with these awards.
To be recognized, a minimum of 80-acres of the original land must still be owned by the same family and they must be able to provide proof of the original date of purchase. More details about the program, including photos of all the families, can be seen on Farm Bureau’s website, www.sdfbf.org.