MANKATO, Minn. — On the north side of Mankato you’ll find the sixth-generation Guentzel family farm. Producing corn and soybeans, this farm is utilizing family to make their operation run as smooth as possible. The Guentzels also focus on community relations. Their goal is to give back to the area which has been part of their agricultural livelihood for generations while bridging the gap between those who grow our food and those who buy it.
Angela Guentzel was raised on the Guentzel family farm. “I had always helped out on the farm growing up.” Life took her from the farm to school at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. where she majored in sociology and minored in Spanish. She went on to work in the human services sector in Denver, Colo. and in the Twin Cities before it became apparent that her passion and calling was working in agriculture.
In April 2014, Guentzel made the move back to the farm and hasn’t looked back since. Guentzel’s father, Terry, and brother, Jon, own the farm, while Angela takes on various farm duties. Her role on the farm changes with the season and the needs of the farm — from driving tractor to working in the shop; to human resources; to payroll; to community relations. Guentzel works diligently in all the various roles she’s taken on. As for how the three Guentzels handle farming together day in and day out, “We’ve worked together a long time. We’ve figured each other out.”
“I obviously didn’t come back at the pinnacle of economics of it (farming),” Guentzel said. From 2014 to now, Guentzel has witnessed change in farming. As the average age of producers in the United States is now nearly 60, Guentzel believes that is starting to usher in a new wave of younger farmers. “The landscape is changing a lot.”
Guentzel is proud of the longevity of the farm and the opportunities it has given her family. “The family legacy is the pillar of our business,” she said.
In addition to her various roles on the farm, Guentzel is thrilled to be involved in the community through a variety of organizations.
Guentzel represents District II on the Minnesota Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education State Committee and is also involved with the Farm Bureau on the county level as well. Guentzel works with CommonGround, which according to the organization’s website is “A group of farm women who volunteer their time to share information about farming and food.”
She is also part of the Greater Mankato Young Professionals which she joined in 2014 when she started working full time on the farm. According to Guentzel, being a part of that organization has provided her with many opportunities through the years. Her leadership in the Young Professionals group led to Guentzel being named Greater Mankato’s 2019 Young Professional of the Year. “I was excited to be recognized for that.”
For Guentzel, being involved in the community is a vital component of the farm. “As the landscape of agriculture changes and grows, we’re getting more and more removed from the average person.” Connecting to community is a great way to get the message of what’s happening in agriculture out to the general public. That includes having the opportunity to host farm tours. Guentzel believes that it’s always important for the farm to give back to the community they have been a part for over a century.
Guentzel and husband, Andy Cramblit, own Mankato Valley Seed where they sell Golden Harvest and Gold Country seed in addition to microbial products.
Together, Guentzel and Cramblit grow giant pumpkins. The largest one this year is weighing in at an astonishing 1,200 pounds. Cramblit puts in the time and energy working to ensure that every year there’s a huge pumpkin or two on the farm.
There’s always something new on the farm and it seems no two days are the same. The Guentzel farm has seen generation after generation raise crops on the land they love and respect. Succession planning is now in the works to ensure a smooth transition safeguarding that the Guentzel farm is around for a long time to come. For Guentzel, being a part of farming operation coupled with the community involvement has been the perfect pairing of the very two things she’s passionate about.