Erik Bakke is a goal setter. He learned from a young age that if you set goals in life (both short-term and long-term), work hard and have confidence in what you’re doing, things generally work out. Every Monday he sets goals for the week, and during hard times, like the harvest of 2019, focusing on the short-term goals has pulled him through.

While Erik is a first-generation sugar beet farmer, farming is a part of his heritage, going back generations in the U.S. and in Norway before that. He grew up on a row crop and livestock farm, helping his father and great uncle. When Erik was 16, he began renting his own ground to farm. Thirty years later now he hopes to incorporate his own children into the farm operation.

Erik started growing sugar beets with a neighbor, Beau Jacobson, 18 years ago. After helping out other area farmers during sugar beet harvest, they decided to give this profitable crop a shot. They now grow sugar beets on 2000 acres.

“Consumers don’t know where their food comes from, they are so removed from agriculture. Go back a generation and everyone knew someone who farmed! We are multi-generational operations. Of course, we make a living doing what we do, but this is a family business. We work together with family, friends and neighbors to grow the food that is on your tables.”

If there is one thing Erik would like consumers to know it would be that farmers are stewards of the land. “As farmers we want to take care of the land and grow a product for the consumer in a sustainable way that is good for the environment. Trust us.”

Erik and his wife Mindy have been married for 22 years and have three children. Their daughter Anikka, 19, is a sophomore in college, and their boys Soren and Trygg are 16 and 13, respectively. They boys want to be out there, doing various tasks, run combines, grain carts, etc. and have been pretty integrated in the farming operation. While Erik wants to give the kids an opportunity to farm, he doesn’t want to put pressure on them either, wants them to enjoy it.

While it applies to both farming and life in general, Erik tells the kids you’ll have good times and bad times. Cherish the good times and when it gets tough dig in and work a little harder. “When times get tough, dig in your heels and keep working hard. Be persistent and set goals.”

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