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Minnesota farm family works hard to keep Fun Farm entertaining

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf
agripen@live.com

Date Modified: 09/11/2013 10:26 AM

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WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Marlyn and Jolene Nystrom sold their first pumpkin from their Nobles County farm 15 years ago.

Grandpa's Fun Farm has grown rapidly since and now hosts seven festival weekends in September and October.

County commissioner Marv Zylstra nominated Nystroms for Nobles County Farm Family.

"I have known Marlyn since his high school days,'' Zylstra said. "He was your typical corn and soybean farmer," said Zylstra. "That takes a back seat now as they devote their time to developing this niche that brings kids to the farm."

At Grandpa's Fun Farm, non-farm visitors can see cows being milked and pigs.

The couple farms 270 acres of corn and soybeans, that now is custom planted and harvested.

Planting season has them busy with plant sales from their greenhouse, and fall is another busy time.

"We enjoy seeing families have fun," said Jolene.

Two miniature golf courses, a rope swing, a tree house, mega sand box with trucks and other toys and a petting zoo make it a popular destination.

Three buildings from another farm that were destined for demolition were moved to the farm 11 years ago.

A barn makes a good home for antiques and crafts. Their daughter, Karin Peters, refurbishes former farming items into art.

The granary has become a maze. Outdoor stairs lead to the loft that has twists and turns before returning to ground level. The Nystroms provide the supplies for visitors to make themed crafts that they can take home.

"This year it is 'Bringing In The Harvest,'" said Jolene. "We will decorate the farm reflecting that theme."

Scarecrows are scattered around Grandpa's Fun Farm. Scarecrows can be seen working on an old truck that once belonged to Jolene's parents, Don and Marian Voss.

Winter is spent preparing for next year's merriment.

Marlyn Nystrom is convinced his wife stays awake at night dreaming of what next to add.

"She tells me her idea," he said. "Then I figure out how to make it."

A catapult that Marlyn built launches pumpkins at set times during fall festivals.

They grow pumpkins, gourds, squash and ornamental corn that is used in their displays and for sale during the festivals.

Grandpa's Fun Farm is open Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 7 through Oct. 19.