Family opens farm for fun, education

The Severt family of Merrill is opening up their farm to the public this fall to offer a look at the past and present of farming. The farm at N2613 Norwegian Rd. has been in the family for 106 years and is registered as a Century Farm.

Jim Severt, who currently owns the property, has a menagerie of animals on the farm. For the past 25 years he has raised whitetail deer as breeding stock. He still does cropping and raises some cattle on the farm.

Jim is planning to make “Grampa’s Farm” an annual event.

“I always felt that children and young people need to know more about agriculture,” he said.

To that end, the family has created a farming museum and education center in the hayloft of the 81-year-old barn. Photos, storyboards and antique items tell the history of Merrill area agriculture, while hands-on demonstrations give visitors an idea of what life on the farm was like for past generations. The old grainery has been converted into a small theater, showing educational movies about farming.

Outside, many pieces of both antique and modern farm machinery is on display.

Jim has been contemplating opening the farm to the public for about 10 years, he said. And he decided this would be the year.

Grampa’s Farm opened last weekend to a good response from area families. The event continues this weekend as the farm will be open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Every child who attends can receive a free pumpkin from the Severt pumpkin patch. A hayride takes visitors out to the pumpkin patch.

Grampa’s Farm features an extensive petting zoo, including sheep, goats, deer, pigs, chicks, calf, bunnies, guinea pigs and a miniature donkey. A cow has even volunteered to assist in hands-on milking demonstrations. Pony rides are also offered.

The Severt family and friends have come together to help with the Grampa’s Farm. At any given time, about 20 volunteers are working to keep everything running smoothly.

The farm was originally purchased by Clarence Peterson, whose daughter Minnie married Adolf Severt. They had two children, June and Matt. Jim bought the farm from his parents, Matt and Virginia Severt. Jim and his wife Denise have lived on the farm for the past 40 years.

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