The Gary and Dean Sellner families of Sleepy Eye have been named Brown County’s “2011 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota.


The Gary and Dean Sellner families of Sleepy Eye have been named Brown County’s “2011 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota.

Their farm, located south of Sleepy Eye near the Cottonwood River, is filled with hogs, sheep, cows, and every two years, chickens. As much as possible, the animals are kept outdoors at the Sellner farm, taking advantage of ample pasture land.

In their fields they raise corn, soybeans, Del Monte peas, wheat and alfalfa.

Dean and Gary are the third generation owners of the Sellner farm, having taken over from their father and uncle, Everett and Jerome in 1991. Everett and Jerome took over the farm from their father, George Sellner in 1966. Originally, the farm wasfounded by George in 1922, 89 years ago.

From 5:30 in the morning until sunset or later, Dean and Gary stay busy with the various sections of their farm. Gary is in charge of the dairy operation, while Dean takes charge of the hogs, sheep and crops.

“These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota’s economy and the vitality of Minnesota’s rural communities,” said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension.

When asked if they think about this sort of factor during their day-to-day operations, Dean responded by saying, “it’s more down to earth.”

Though he did also mention, “you do have to think about the bigger picture.”

Both Dean and Gary said they enjoy being able to work outdoors, but that there are other parts of their job they really enjoy.

“You’re working by yourself and working for yourself,” Gary said. “No one is looking over your shoulder. If you don’t like a job there is plenty of other stuff to do and you can come back to it.”

Since taking over the farm in 1991, Dean and Gary have seen a lot change in the farming business.

“There are a lot more regulations and a lot more paperwork,” Gary said.

The increased regulations, they estimated, had really began to build up over the last five years.

“But that is what the consumer wants. They want more information,”?Dean explained. “They want to know that you are treating the animals in a good way and that your product is safe.”

The brothers have also seen technology take large strides since they took over the farm, primarily in milking and dairy, but also with their machinery. A combine, for example, can now map out a field and change variables depending on the kind of soil they are on.

A lot of farmers have reported difficulties and losses due to the heat, the rain and other weather conditions this year. Dean explained they have been able to avoid much of that damage.

“This year we’ve been pretty fortunate,” Dean said. “It was tough this spring trying to get the crop in, but there is always something.”

Dean and Gary are not always working alone on the farm; their families help out with chores and some operations.

Gary and his wife Rebecca have two daughters; Courtney and Lyndsey.  Dean and wife Karen have three children; Brad, Katie and Natalie.

The Sellner family will be officially recognized along with the farm families from other counties in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 4 during Farmfest on the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls.