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Kluenders recognized as Outstanding Conservationists

By Staff | Jan 24, 2016

Archie and Denise Kluender are pictured at their farm in Walters. The couple has been farming for 42 years but have been operating as a certified organic farm for 20 years.

These days you hear of more and more people going green in their home or buying organic products.

But, one Faribault County family has decided to transition their entire 42-year-old farm to organic.

Archie and Denise Kluender, of Walters, were recently recognized as the Faribault County Outstanding Conservationists for the practices they have implemented on their farm.

And, Denise says she thought it was their organic inspector who had nominated the Kluenders for the recognition.

“He inspects our farm every year and when he was here last time he asked if we had ever been honored,” Denise says. “Then when we found out we were chosen I?thought it was him who nominated us.”

Archie and Denise Kluender received recognition as the Faribault County Outstanding Conservationists.

But, it was not their organic inspector who nominated the couple.

“It was really an honor that more than one person made the statement that we should be recognized for our efforts,”?Denise says.

Her husband, Archie, agreed, “I was surprised, but it is really nice to be recognized.”

The Kluenders were honored during the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, on Dec. 7-8, along with other honorees from around the state.

“They held a luncheon where they showed a slideshow of each farm and highlighted some of the practices each one implemented,”?Archie explained.

They have implemented many conservation practices on their farm such as bringing in beehives for pollination, utilizing cover crops and planting grass waterways and windbreaks. Some of the practices are pictured above.

And, the Kluenders have a number of conservation practices implemented on their farm and is why they were selected for the honor.

Some of those practices include; steep slopes planted with alfalfa and grass, windbreaks, grass waterways and buffer strips and bringing in bee hives.

All of these practices are something they have done on their farm for a number of years, but it was 20 years ago when they made the switch to organic.

“I was involved in the Sustainable Ag Association years ago for the south central chapter and a lot of the guys on that board were switching to organic,”?Archie explained.

He added that many of the ideas behind organic farming really stood out to him and he liked what he was hearing.

“About that time I had a chemical reaction and that really got me thinking about going organic,”?Archie says.

The decision was made and the Kluenders began the process of becoming an organic farm. But, it was not quite as simple as making the decision and then being recognized as an organic farm.

“It takes three years of transition before you can sell organic,”?he says.

There are certain crop rotations to follow and they can only use approved organic seeds, fertilizers and other organic approved products.

Their farm, which is 700 acres, contains crops such as alfalfa, buckwheat, oats, corn, food grade peas, rye and vetch.

“Buckwheat is good for honeybees,”?Denise adds. “So we have bees brought out to collect honey and help pollinate the crop, too.”Archie explains that while some local farmers have livestock such as cattle or hogs, the Kluenders look at livestock a little differently.

“We don’t have livestock above ground, we are feeding ‘livestock’ below the ground,”?he says.

And by that he means that they are utilizing the microorganisms in the soil to fertilize the soil and improve soil structure.

“The soil doesn’t fall apart and won’t wash away as easily,”?Denise adds.

And, while one might think that they have organic farming and conservation completely figured out.

The Kluenders will be the first to tell that they are always learning.

“We are still learning,”?they both emphasized.

“There is a lot of camaraderie between organic farmers,” Denise says. “The farmers share so much information with each other.”

Attending the convention where they were honored provided just one more way for them to hear and share ideas with others.

“Hearing and talking to people with similar ideas inspires you to keep on doing what you’re doing,”?Archie says.

The award program is conducted with support from The Farmer magazine.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts around the state recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota’s natural resources.

Neal Mensing, the Faribault County SWCD?Board chair, says the Kluenders were recognized for a variety of reasons and that through their conservation efforts even their neighbors have noticed improved water quality as a result of their conservation practices.

“We are really proud of the Kluenders and what they have done for conservation in Faribault County,”?Mensing says.