Small Towns, Big Hearts

Small Towns, Big Hearts

Erica Hearn, Human Resources Generalist, East Grand Forks Factory

It was a perfect day for a Harvest Bee in the small town of Nielsville, MN.  Shawn Brekke, who has farmed by Nielsville his entire life, was severely burned in a farming accident, leaving him unable to harvest his crop.  A group of farmers from around the area coordinated a Harvest Bee on September 9, 2015 to bring in Shawn’s crop of sugar beets.  They brought with them six beet lifters and over 30 trucks to haul into the Nielsville piler, which was set up to receive only Brekke’s beet crop. These efforts were coordinated by Curtis Funk, American Crystal’s Sr. Agriculturist from Crookston.  Darlyne Gehring was working the scale house, and she knew almost all of the drivers by name and who they hauled for.  Darlyne and her husband Carl (Site Foreman) have been coming up to the RRV from Texas for the last 10 years to help with American Crystal’s sugar beet harvest. Darlyne handed out candy, filled coffee cups (with extra sugar of course!) and also helped to hand out T-shirts and Koozies donated by American Crystal in appreciation for everyone’s help. The Brekke family made sack lunches, which were given to drivers by Shawn’s son Logan and helpers Olivia and Audrey.  T-shirts and lunches were also brought to the fields for the helpers in the harvesters and toppers.  The quote that summed up the whole day, as the last few rows were being harvested, came from shareholder, Jerry Bitker, “It’s not something you even have to think about.  You find out what needs to be done and you just do it. It’s just what we do - it’s who we are.


The stats for the day:

  • 273 trucks dumped
  • 6,003 tons of beets
  • 5 hours of harvest  

The list of Growers that brought equipment were Kevin Paulsrud, Jerry Bitker, Randy Spokely, Trever Spokely, Jerry Tronnes, Doug Chandler, Joel Stola, David Arends, Jeremie Larson, Eric Sorenson, Shane Grove, Garrett Peterson, Curtis Funk, Adam Smith, Greg Abentroth, and Dean Larson. There were also many others helped make the Harvest Bee a success. Thanks to everyone involved!