Spending Time with Tim Zweber, Zweber Farms

Founded by John Zweber in 1907, Zweber Farms is a century-old farm located just north of Elko New Market on Natchez Avenue. The farm provides milk to Organic Valley and is a direct market meat business (pork, beef, chickens and eggs) to local customers.

How has your farm changed over the generations?
Along with other farmers in the area, over the years, our farm has evolved in many ways. Changes in farming practices and technology affect how we farm and differences in what people want to eat impact what we raise and how we raise it. One thing has always remained the same – our business is focused on raising and caring for animals.

What obstacles have you faced as a business owner?
Our biggest challenge, as agricultural business owners in a rapidly urbanizing area, has been how to change our business practices to profit from the increased population around us. In past years, our business was focused on expansion and achieving efficiency of scale. We have since decided that rather than continue to expand livestock numbers, we’d start dealing directly with the customers who buy our products. We had to learn how to be a retailer as well as a producer of food. We’re very happy with the decision though.

What do you see as the future of American agriculture?
As we see it, the future of American agriculture is twofold: There will be increased size and efficiency of commodity farms producing raw materials for food, fuel and fiber; as well as a renaissance of small farms. More and more people are seeking higher quality food and fiber products that just can’t be produced at large scales.

What is your favorite farm duty?
Everyone here has favorite jobs. Lisa loves helping our meat customers and making the farm beautiful with flowers. Jon enjoys caring for the dairy cows, and feeds and milks them daily. Emily cares for the calves and shares our farm with local children. As for me, I enjoy raising pigs and making hay for all the cattle to eat during our long Minnesota winters.