The Tart family has been toiling in the same fields for five generations all in the Root River valley minutes from Spring Valley, Minn. And, all within a mile of the farm where Kevin Tart and Julie Broadwater along with their three children, Lakin, Macen and Nayli live.
Kevin’s great-great-grandfather Alkin Tart and his wife Mary Tart were the first generation to farm the fertile land. Then came great-grandfather Frances Tart and his wife Olive Tart, Elton and Erna Tart, and grandfather David Tart and his wife Kathy. The farm Kevin and his family live on was owned and farmed by Kevin’s cousin and his father before him; the father was a brother of Kevin’s great-grandfather Frances.
Both Kevin and Julie grew up on dairy farms. Julie over by Greenleafton not far from where she now lives. Her parents are Kathy and the late Dan Broadwater. In 2000, the Tarts sold off their milk cows.
Kevin is a full-time farmer and starts first thing in the morning after the kids are dropped off at daycare. He explained, “On a farm you learn how to fix your own stuff. Build your own things. Out here you are kind of good at a lot of things. Maybe not an expert at any of them but you’re good at a lot of things. You are your own taxman, accountant and agronomist.”
Julie works remotely from home for Mayo Clinic in the radiology department, which is very convenient. Laughing, she explained that on the farm her job title is gopher, “I run for this and that.”
The couple owns 170 acres and farms 800 acres, which includes his dad’s property. They currently have 100 beef cows that are a “mix of everything.” The conventional crops they raise include corn, beans, oats and hay. They also raise organic crops which consist of corn, beans, hay and barley.
During COVID-19 the couple started Root River Meats. The Root River runs through the farm; thus, the name for their new venture. They sell the whole animal and send it to Cody Koebke, Kevin’s cousin and owner of Ody’s Country Meats and Catering, for processing. Kevin explained that during COVID they did pretty well because there was no food on the shelves, adding, “We sold about 40 head that year and about 10-15 a year after that, which is more than we have ever done, so I am happy with it.”
Julie concluded by strongly stressing that people need to support their local community and not just the farmers. Shop local!