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Hansens win Good Farm Neighbor Award

By Jean Caspers-Simmet
simmet@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 03/15/2013 10:22 AM

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HUDSON, Iowa —The new ice cream cone-shaped visitors center at Hansen's Farm Fresh Dairy near Hudson was packed as the Jay and Jeanne Hansen family received the Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award from Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jay Johnson.

The Big Show, which airs on both WHO and WMT radio, broadcast live from the presentation and visitors enjoyed a meal complete with Hansen's milk and ice cream.

"Jay and Jeanne are very deserving winners of this award," Johnson said. "They do a tremendous job of caring for their animals while also reaching out to their community to share the story of agriculture.

The Hansens have 175 cows and 190 heifers, all purebred Holsteins. They started processing and marketing their own milk in 2004 so that their four sons, Brent, Brad, Blair and Blake, could join them on the farm. Brent runs delivery, distribution and sales. Brad is in charge of the creamery. Blair handles crops and nutrition, and Blake takes care of the cows. The Hansens also raise row crops and hay.

The Hansens were nominated for the award by their neighbor Joanne Vlasak of Waterloo.

"The Hansens are a good neighbor and community member because they serve so many people in the surrounding area," Vlasak wrote in her nomination. "Not only can people purchase great Iowa dairy products that are produced right here in the neighborhood, they have a tremendous passion to tell everyone about farm living and what it takes to get food to the market."

The Hansens built a monolithic dome-shaped visitor center and on-farm store and give farm tours to families, school groups and other visitors. They also have an outlet store in Cedar Falls and an ice cream shop/store in Waterloo.

Hansens' products include whole, 1 percent, and skim white milk, chocolate milk, cream, butter, cheese curds, and ice cream. There are 42 on the payroll including family members.

Jay and Jeanne have a daughter, Lynn, a teacher who lives in Omaha with her family, and 15 grandchildren.

"It is very humbling to receive this award," Jeanne said. "There are a lot of neat farmers out there who are doing great things."

Jeanne said she wanted to thank their customers, neighbors and their family.

"Without the boys, we never would have done this," she said.

"This award is a real honor," Jay said. "There are a lot of awards where you fill out an application and submit a resume, but this one Joanne nominated us, and we had no clue until 14 days ago when they called to tell us we were getting it."

A second dome adjoining the visitors center is Jeanne and Jay's home. A racquetball court and exercise area complete with restrooms and showers for use by family and employees and a garage and storage area are also part of the center. Customers can stop in any time to buy milk and other products.

A pond out front is a popular with the grandchildren for swimming and fishing.

"We try to maintain a family orientation," Jay said. "The visitor center is our living room for family get togethers. Activities are focused on the grandkids."

The visitor center has become an event center for the Hudson area. Birthday parties, church and Christmas parties and baby showers have been held there.

The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award, made possible through the financial support of the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in doing things right, Johnson said. This includes caring for the environment and their livestock and being good neighbors. It is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster.