There’s a shade tree on Roger Toquam’s farm that sometimes doubles as a board room. On a hot day last week, the “board room” was packed for a very important meeting.
Roger, two of his three sons, and Roger’s father – three generations of Toquams — were gathered to talk farming. They covered strategies for improving their corn, soybean and contract hog finishing farm, and also reflected a little on how fortunate they all are to be a part of such a special family “business.”
“I thought to myself, ‘this is just so cool,’” Roger said. “Working with my family is what I like most about farming.”
The Toquams will be honored as the Minnesota Corn Growers Farm Family of the Game before the University of Minnesota Gophers football team plays UNLV on Thursday night at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Farm Family of the Game promotion is part of a larger communications partnership between the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the Gophers to raise awareness of agriculture with non-farmers and the general public.
Roger’s sons, Brennen, Josh and Isaiah, are the fifth generation of Toquams to be involved on the farm. Roger’s father Orlo still helps as well and was very much a part of last week’s meeting under the shade tree. Rhonda, Roger’s wife, manages the farm’s administrative duties.
“To be able to talk farming strategy with your family — figuring out how to come back after a bad crop or fix a bad situation — we just love it and get along so well,” Roger said. “We’re hoping it’s the same for the next generation as well.”
The Toquam family farm got its start in 1939 when Clifford and Hannah Toquam turned 560 acres into a working farm. Clifford was also the first farmer in his area to use rubber tires on his tractor and was one of the first in the state to use a dryer to dry his corn. Orlo and his wife Carole then took over the farm and eventually passed it on to Roger and Rhonda.
Being recognized as the Farm Family of the Game is one of many honors the Toquams have achieved during a lifetime on the farm. A year ago, the Toquams were selected as the Dodge County Soil & Water Farmer of the Year and the Southeast Minnesota Ag Alliance Farm Advocate of the Year. Roger is also a member of the Dodge County Corn and Soybean Association.
Earlier this summer, the Toquams were selected as the University of Minnesota’s Farm Family of the Year in Dodge County. Back in 1980, Roger’s parents were honored as the first Farm Family of the Year in Dodge County.
“It’s nice to have it come back to the family,” Roger said. “Dodge County is very rural — I think we have one stoplight in the whole county. Agriculture is the backbone of this area and there are a ton of farmers to pick from. For us to be selected when there are so many farmers in the area, it’s special.”
The future of the Toquam farm looks bright, even though Roger says this year’s crops could use some rain and a late frost. The Toquams use conservation tools like ridge-till cultivation that reduce nutrient run-off and maximize yields, improving water quality and preserving the surrounding environment for the next generation.
“No question I wanted to farm all my life and be involved in production agriculture,” Roger said. “It’s a great family business and we’re very proud of our farm.”
The Gophers play the UNLV Rebels at 6 p.m. Thursday at TCF Bank Stadium. The Toquams will be honored before kickoff on the video screen and during a special ceremony at halftime. Come back to minnesotaCORNerstone.com before every Gophers football home game to learn more about that week’s University of Minnesota Farm Family of the Game.