An Enduring Legacy
AN ENDURING LEGACY
For Pat Bakeberg, farming at Goldview Farms is more than just an occupation—it’s been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. “My first memories are of my family. It’s always been a family farm. I can remember picking rocks in the field with my brothers and sisters, doing chores and spending hours with my dad out in the field,” he recalls.
While Bakeberg has been working on the Waverly, Minnesota-based crop and dairy farm since the mid-2000s, Goldview has belonged to his family for much longer. In fact, his work on the farm makes Pat the fifth generation of Bakebergs to tend the land since its founding in 1873. This year, Goldview will receive special recognition as a sesquicentennial farm as it celebrates 150 years as a family-owned farm.
The lineage of Goldview Farms started with Henry Bakeberg Sr., who initially purchased 80 acres of land from a neighboring family farm on March 18, 1873. He hit the ground running with his farming career, acquiring the land immediately after he immigrated from Prussia to the United States and settled in Minnesota, even before he officially received U.S. citizenship. Henry paid $1,000 in total for the land, a shockingly small sum by today’s standards.
“Now, land’s going for [much more],” Pat says. “There’s a parcel [of land] down the road that sold the other day for about $10,000 an acre. That would have been closer to about $800,000 today.” Henry Bakeberg Sr. owned the land until 1911, when he passed it to his son, Henry Jr., who then passed it to his son, Carl, in 1961. Greg (Butch) Bakeberg took ownership in 1978, before Pat took over in 2022.
Through its 150-year history, Goldview has weathered the challenges of a changing world, but as it has been passed through the generations from father to son, the one constant has been the family’s steadfast ownership of the land.
CALLED TO LEAD
As the youngest of five children and the only one who had expressed interest in coming back to farm, Pat knew it was his calling to be the next generation to tend the land. He attended Ridgewater College in Willmar and earned a degree in farm operations and management with an emphasis in dairy. “Before I went to college, my parents were in the process of getting out of the dairy operation,” he says. “I had no interest originally when I was in high school. I wanted to be a beef and crop farmer. For some reason, when I went to college, I changed my mind and decided I wanted to dairy farm.”
Upon returning to Goldview, Pat helped expand the farm’s operations, including doubling the dairy herd from milking about 60 cows to 120, making building improvements and purchasing land. Joanna, his wife of six years, joined him on the farm at the beginning of 2022 after working at the Wright County FSA office. Now she helps manage the farm full time.
These expansion efforts have meant incredible growth for the farm beyond its humble beginnings. Today, Pat runs a multifaceted business, encompassing numerous farming operations. “Our main breadwinner is the dairy farm, where we milk about 120 cows. We farm about 850 acres that are split between owned and rented land, including corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa. Some of that is cash crop and some goes back for feed for the cows,” he says. "We also raise our own steers for market, operate a custom bailing and combining business, and a have a custom chopping business with a fellow neighbor."
EVERYBODY PITCHES IN
Despite his many business endeavors, Pat isn’t alone in managing Goldview; It’s still very much a family affair. While his siblings—Cindy, Dave, Tim and Mary—are all married and live off the farm, they still return to assist. In fact, Pat’s brother Dave and nephew Kaleb handle the majority of the tillage work, and his brother Tim travels frequently from Wisconsin to assist in field work and handle any necessary repairs on the farm. His mother Faye also continues to play an active role, helping with calf care, being a field runner and babysitting her 13 grandchildren. Outside of the direct Bakeberg family management, Goldview is supported by friends and neighbors of the family, as well as part-time employees James Winterhalter and Jillian Koch.
One of the biggest changes that Pat has witnessed throughout Goldview’s long history is the influence of technology on farming practices. “There’s so much data you can get on the farm,” Pat explains. “In the combine, you can map your field and it will tell you exactly how many bushels that acre will give and the moisture in it. All of my cows have a CowManager System. They wear a little ear tag, and it tells me the temperature of the cow, if she's eating, her reproduction information or if she is sick. It’s amazing, the technology that’s out there.”
While technology has streamlined farming practices and made it easier to farm in recent years, Pat recognizes that changes in the farming industry itself has affected Goldview and other generational farms. “To me, the biggest change is that you don’t see as many farmers. You see a lot of farms going out, and it’s not the young guys taking it over. You don’t see that next generation a lot [because] your consumers are getting further removed from the farm. There are so many kids who think that chocolate milk comes from a brown cow. They don’t have that grandparent who used to be a farmer.”
SHARING THEIR LEGACY
To help ease this distance between the farmer and the consumer, Goldview has become a voice for agricultural education and community involvement through events like the annual Wright-Carver Breakfast on the Farm. It was the brainchild of Pat’s late father, Greg (Butch), the fourth generation to farm the land and a passionate advocate for ag. Originally organized in 2009, Breakfast on the Farm gives visitors a glimpse of life on a modern family farm. Attendees receive a tour of the farm, including several ag education stops led by industry professionals to learn about animal and crop care. People can enjoy a pancake breakfast, as well as sample products made by local farms, including cheese, milk, ice cream and beef sticks.
With the help of local dealerships, tractors and farming equipment are lined up to allow children to interact directly with the machinery. The event, held in June every year, has become a great success for the counties, drawing on average 1,500 visitors to the farm. Wright County has partnered with neighboring Carver County to expand event offerings and grow visitor numbers. Hosting duties cycle between several neighbors, but to honor its 150th anniversary, Goldview will host in 2023. Through these educational efforts, Goldview is not only establishing itself as a welcoming place for the next generation to learn about agriculture, but it’s also an opportunity for the farm to continue and share its long legacy.
This legacy is on full display this year as Goldview receives recognition from the Minnesota Farm Bureau as a sesquicentennial farm. Beginning in 2008, the program honors Minnesota family farms that have had continuous family ownership for at least 150 years, are at least 50 acres in size and currently run agriculture productions. Since the program’s inception, 516 farms in Minnesota have been awarded this designation, including 43 in 2023. To be formally recognized as a sesquicentennial farm, the Bakebergs found old family paperwork to prove the family’s ownership and management of the land back to 1873.
For Pat, the acknowledgement of his farm’s milestone is a valuable way to raise awareness for more farmers like him. “It’s neat to see that family farms are still out there. There’s so much [in the media] about corporate farms, but family farms are still there,” Pat says. “They’re the ones who started the country.” With the help of this statewide program, these storied family farms can receive some well-deserved recognition for their work cultivating the land and give perspective to the rich history of family farms in Minnesota.
As for the possibility of a sixth generation to eventually take over Goldview, that remains to be seen. The Bakebergs’ children—Harper, age 4, Olivia, age 3, and Hattie, 6 months—are still very young. But they are showing an interest and having fun along the way—showing calves, helping with milking and playing with the animals.
However, for Pat, the most important thing is to care for agriculture and have pride in the value that farming has provided for generations.
“My first hope is that the next generation wants to take it over,” he says. “Will it be a dairy farm? Who knows. But I hope they continue to have the same passion that we do for the industry.”