Meet Your Farmers
Bryan, Jessie, Charlie and Annella Simon
Click here to see the Land Stewardship Project’s article on our farm and ways we are working to improve soil and water quality (starts on page 21).
Click here to see the Sustainable Farming Association’s feature article about Lakeside Prairie Farm.
Click here to see our latest newsletter.
Our story begins with the memories of Bryan’s grandparents’ farm near Morris, MN. Since he was a boy, he wanted to be a farmer like his Grandpa when he grew up. Time spent on Grandma and Grandpa’s farm connected him with the land, instilled in him a strong work ethic and taught him the value of good home-grown food.
Bryan took his connection to the land and growing things and received his Bachelor’s degree in biology from the U of M Morris and his Master’s degree in ecology from South Dakota State. He went on to work for the Student Conservation Association, the U.S. Park Service, and The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, Texas, Hawaii, and South Dakota, where he further developed his love for the land, gained an appreciation for the diversity of our native ecosystems, and became aware of the problems faced by native ecosystems due to modern agriculture.
Lakeside Prairie Farm began in 2013 as a partnership between longtime friends Bryan and Ryan Heinen. After several years searching for farmland, Bryan and Ryan were fortunate to be introduced to Joe and Sylvia Luetmer, who were seeking to help beginning farmers and to bring about a change in the way our food is produced. Lakeside Prairie Farm has undergone many changes since we’ve started farming. Along the way, we have raised vegetables, chickens, oats, and wheat, but have now narrowed our focus to grass-fed beef and pastured pork. Ryan and family have since moved on to try their hands at organic dairy. Today, Bryan, his wife Jessie and their children Charlie and Annella continue to farm and eat well in this beautiful oasis.
Bryan’s wife Jessie shares his love of the land and sense of stewardship of its ecosystems. Jessie is a third grade teacher in the Ashby school district and a part-time farmer. Their son Charlie is the farm’s official egg finder, pea picker, tractor co-pilot and rock collector. Their daughter Annella is the secondary pig farmer, cow petter, and bird watcher. She rarely lets Daddy get out the door without her to do the morning chores.
So why have we decided to start farming? For two reasons: 1. American agriculture needs us and 2. Farming is in our DNA. The average age of American farmers is nearly 60 and the fastest growing age group among farmers are those over the age of 65. For the sake of food security, American agriculture needs young beginning farmers. The American agricultural system also needs changes. We are here answering the call to help change the way our community and our country feeds itself. We are farming so that the good people of our community have access to safe, healthy, nutritious food that was grown by their neighbor, that didn’t compromise the air they breathe, the water they drink, or the wildlife they enjoy in order to grow it. We have inherited a strong work ethic, love for the land, and a sense of community and now we want pass our values on to our children. Where better is there to do that than on a farm?
We are proud to be your local farmers.
- We value healthy native ecosystems: a healthy environment, healthy soil, healthy plants, and healthy animals, which will give rise to healthy people and healthy communities.
- Diverse farming enterprises and maintenance of biodiversity are critical to ecosystem health, resilience, and productivity, as well as economic stability.
- We believe in environmental and economic sustainability as a necessity to running a successful business as well as a moral obligation for the sake of future generations.
- We are committed to producing quality products. If something is worth doing, we believe it is worth doing well.
- We want to exemplify Christian values in the way we farm, do business, and raise our family.
- We value a quality of life that allows for time spent with family and friends.
- Support of our neighbors and local community is both socially just and rewarding.
- Educating people about where their food comes from, how it was produced and the impact of their food on the environment and rural communities is vital to fixing our broken food system.