Dan and Lynn Hacker Family recognized as a 2021 ‘U of M Farm Family’ for Brown County
The Dan and Lynn Hacker family of Sleepy Eye has been named Brown County’s “2021 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota. All of Minnesota's 87 county farm families of the year are being honored at Farmfest today (Thursday).
Dan and Lynn were married in 1974. Dan had a 300-head hog operation and Lynn was a teacher. Their plan was to raise their children on a farm while growing crops and raising hogs. The tough years of the 1980s made the couple realize that owning more land wasn’t an option so they decided to “think outside the box.”
The Hackers lost their 14-month-old son, Tom, in 1981, which altered Dan and Lynn’s view of what was important in life. Lynn’s father told them they needed to stay busy after Tom died and brought 200 Christmas trees from his Wisconsin farm for Dan and Lynn to sell. That was the beginning of Hacker’s Tree Farm.
The Hackers still raise pigs on the farm and for the past 25 years Dan raised show pigs. The family also grows corn and soybeans. The Hackers added manufacturing of 92 different types of wreaths and garland and ship their products to 15 states.
In 1985, the family added the greenhouse side of the business. Their plants are sold wholesale and retail. Bedding plants are sold at the farm in rural Sleepy Eye from 30,000 square feet of greenhouses and in New Ulm at Hacker’s Garden Center.
Dan and Lynn’s daughter, Heather, owns A to Zinnia Floral in New Ulm and helps with the management of the greenhouses along with her husband, Spencer Hammer, who farms in South Dakota. Heather and Spencer have two children, Olivia and Violet.
Dan and Lynn have two sons who own Hacker’s Construction and Wausau Homes in Duluth. Their son Matthew and his wife, Hailie, have four kids, Emily, Jackson, Wyatt and Caleb. The Hackers’ son Nicholas and his wife, Joleen, have three children, Callan, Wesley and Ethan.
The Hackers are members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye, the Brown County Pork Producers Association and the Minnesota Christmas Tree Growers Association. Lynn has been a Brown County Master Gardener since 1992.
Dan was called home to heaven in 2018 after a 12-year battle with ALS. He taught the family the importance of faith, family and farming.
Honored families are chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to their communities and to enhancing and supporting agriculture.
“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. “The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.”