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The Anderson's Swede Lake Farm recognized as a Century Farm

The farm, located in Cromwell, was originally purchased in 1918 by Charles and Wilhelmena Anderson for $6.20 per acre.

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From left, LeeAnn, Guy and Joan Anderson stand in front of the home at the Anderson's Swede Lake Farm with their Century Farm certificate on Wednesday, June 28, 2022, in Cromwell.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal
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CROMWELL — Purchased in 1918 by Finnish immigrants Charles and Wilhelmena Anderson, the Anderson’s Swede Lake Farm in Cromwell was recognized as a Century Farm in March, presented on behalf of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and the Minnesota State Fair.

The Anderson’s Swede Lake Farm is the lone representative from Carlton County among the 77 farms statewode to earn the distinction.

LeeAnn Anderson, a fourth generation co-owner of the farm, said she enjoyed the experience of going through some of the old paperwork and materials in preparing to apply for Century Farm status.

“It’s kind of cool, and I hope our kids appreciate it,” Anderson said. “It’s quite a bit of paperwork when you decide to start doing it and researching and stuff, and that was fun. That was interesting to see all of that stuff.”

LeeAnn and Guy Anderson have owned the farm for over 40 years after purchasing it from Guy’s parents, Richard and Joan Anderson, in 1982. Guy Anderson grew up on the property and spent much of his childhood and adolescent years tending to the needs of the farm — instilling the value of responsibility along the way.

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Pictured is an aerial photo taken of the Anderson's Swede Lake Farm in Cromwell.
Contributed / The Anderson family

“You always had plenty to do and sometimes you didn’t really have time for all the sports you wish you could, because there were things that needed to be done on the farm,” Guy said. “But you learned how to work. You learned responsibility. I guess I wouldn’t have rather grown up anywhere else.”

During the dog days of summer, Guy fondly recalled jumping into Merlin Lake, nestled just a stone’s throw from the house's porch, to seek refuge from the scorching heat.

“Between hay loads on those hot days you ran down and jumped in the lake for three to four minutes and ran back up before the next load was ready to unload,” Guy said.

In its well over 100-year history, the farm has undergone substantial changes in operations, likely the biggest of which came when Guy’s father, Richard, purchased additional cattle, which provided more milk than what the family required for its own needs. As a result, the family began selling the milk in cans to the local creamery.

“There used to be a truck that would come in and pick up the cans. And then my dad put in a bulk tank and then we started having a few more cows. (Once) us kids got a little bit older, we could do more to help, and so then you had your regular bulk trucks pull it in,” Anderson explained.

With the expansion of the farm’s production came a new barn built in 1964. The barn included a free stall system — a unique feature at the time — which was highlighted in the September 1968 edition of "The Farmer Magazine."

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Pictured is the barn on the Anderson's Swede Lake Farm, which was built in 1964.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

Not long after the farm expanded, Guy spent some time away from the property as he joined the National Guard and pursued a career as an electrician while studying at Duluth Area Vocational Technical Institute (now Lake Superior College). When a job he lined up in the industry fell through, Guy returned to the farm, where he spent one year renting the property before purchasing it in 1982.

Over nearly two decades, the Anderson family was deeply invested in the dairy industry. Guy was a member of the American Dairy Association at the local level and the Holstein Association. Along the way, the Anderson family grew to include five children, who all helped out around the farm.

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By 1999, the Andersons sold off the last of their dairy cows due to the low price of milk at the time. The family later tried its hand with young cattle for a couple of years before selling it all off to focus on hay farming.

Today, the land remains used for hay farming, but is rented out to other farmers as the Andersons have stepped away from the business. The two remain busy watching any one of their 13 grandchildren play sports, in addition to hosting family gatherings, including a reunion coming up on Monday, July 4.

Sometime down the road, the Andersons hope to pass on the farm to one of their five adult children or grandchildren to carry on the legacy set forth by Charles Anderson in 1918.

“Hopefully they’ll keep farming (and it) interests them to some extent," Guy said. "I don’t expect them to get 100 beef cows or something and (they’re) definitely not going into dairy anymore, which is what we did for 23 years, (but) I would like to see it kept as some kind of a farm.”

Related Topics: CROMWELL
Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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