Jurgens and Eng Families were honored as 2020 and 2021 Farm Families

Sarah Bunich
St. James Plaindealer
Farm family of the year: from left Jurgens family (2020) and Eng family (2021)

On Sunday, July 18, the Farm Families for 2020 and 2021 were announced at the Watonwan County Fair. The Jurgens family was announced as the 2020 family and the Eng family was announced as the 2021 family.

Jurgens family history

The Jurgens original homestead was purchased in 1937 by Adeline & Albert Jurgens.  The family grew alfalfa, flax, oats, and corn for silage that was fed to their livestock that included horses, pigs, chickens, geese and veal calves.  The farm was passed on to Adeline and Albert’s son Wally and his wife Phyliss. They raised corn, soybeans, wheat and oats along with chickens, hogs, and feeder steers.

  After they retired the Jurgens farm was taken over by their son Wayne and his wife Kris Ann.  Kris Ann passed away two year later, leaving Wayne with two young sons, Nathan and Matthew.  Ten years later, Wayne married Bernie Ewert bringing into the family her tow children, Nathan & Jenny.  Wayne and Bernie have 7 grandchildren.

The Jurgens farm now grows corn and soybeans.  A creek runs through the farm and the family uses many soil conservation methods to control erosion.  Wayne is the owner-operator of the farm.  Bernie helps wherever needed, especially hauling grain at harvest.  Wayne’s father, Wally, still runs the combine and offers valuable knowledge and experience.  Wayne’s mom, Phyllis, always helped on the farm and still helps where she can.  The Jurgens’ sons help with field work, emptying gran bins, hauling, and other chores when they are able to be home.

Wayne is a member of the Watonwan County Extension Committee and the Watonwan County Corn and Soybean Growers Association.  He was a 4-H Club leader for 12 years and still offers his assistance to 4-H.  The Jurgens are members of East Sveadahl Church where Wayne currently serves on the church council, the cemetery board, AES Joint Council and is a mentor for confirmation youth.  He also volunteers with several local charity organizations  including the Watonwan County Food Shelf, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, and the Watonwan County Relay for Life.

Engs family history

Tom Eng’s grandfather farmed near Odin in Watonwan County until 1947 when his family moved to a farm south of St. James.  The Engs rented land up until about 1967 when Tom’s father made his first purchase of land.   In 1970 they added the home farm, moved there and the family continues to farm the land.

After high school Eng went off to college and then worked for Ziegler Caterpillar while farming part time on his own.  In 2007, Eng’s father passed away suddenly from an accident.   Tom and his wife, Martha, moved back to St. James to take care of Eng’s mother and work the farm.  The Engs remodeled the home on a building site just south of the home farm that Tom had purchased with his father years earlier.  Over the years, the Engs have purchased more land and equipment and have expanded their operation.

Eng’s cousin, Mark Saunders, had been working for many years with Eng’s father on the farm.  As Eng transitioned into full time farming, Eng and Saunders farmed the land together.  Currently the cousins who also do custom work, work together with their separate operations of corn and soybeans.

The Eng's have three grown children.  Their son, Eric, had been helping quite a bit on the farm but about a year ago Eric and his wife, Jolleen, moved to Billings, Montana.  He plans to return for fall harvest to help.  Eng’s other children, Becky and Brian, are both married and live out of state.  Becky and her husband have three children.  Martha has been working remotely from home for the past 13 years, she helps around the farm running errands, delivering meals and helps move equipment when needed.

Tom is chairman of the Watonwan County Corn and Soybean Growers Board and serves as a Long Lake township supervisor.  He serves on the county FSA committee, Watonwan County planning and zoning board, is a board member of First Lutheran Church, and president of the St. James Opera House Restoration Board.