House preserves farm history

STANHOPE – The walls of Bruce and Deb Berggren’s home have housed three generations of the family for more than 60 years.

The original fir floors remain, as well as the trim and front screen door.

“I’ve been in and out of the same door for damn near 65 years now,” Bruce Berggren said with a chuckle. “The exact same door.”

“If these walls and floors could talk, you know?” Deb Berggren added.

While some additions were made to the original home over the years, boxes and drawers of old family photos have remained. They date back to the early 1900s when Bruce Berggren’s great-grandparents immigrated to America from Sweden and purchased the 200-plus acre tract.

And all four floors of the home are filled with history – photos, report cards, original metal toys and baby bottles from Bruce Berggren’s childhood.

“I was raised on a farm too, but we’ll never see a Century Farm on my side,” Deb Berggren said. Motioning to four photo albums she said, “To me it’s such an honor to be part of all this.

“I put this together after we were married because there was all of this history lying in the drawers.”

“She worries mores about them than I do,” Bruce Berggren said.

The photos show families gathering for potlucks, the cattle that were once raised in the pastures and portraits of those who instilled a work ethic in each generation that followed.

A large red barn that used to house cattle and hogs stands predominately on the farm dwarfing two others. Berggren still farms approximately 200 acres of corn and soybeans, sharing equipment and resources with a local friend.

“It works out pretty good,” Bruce Berggren said. “I’ve got more time than he does. He does the planting, and I do just about all of the spraying.”

The Berggrens also have 88 acres of wetland enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

“In fall, there’s a blue stem that’s a dark brown, when it starts turning it’s really pretty, and it’s really good for the birds and pheasants,” Berggren said.

Deb Berggren described her husband as a steward of the land adding that he ridge-tills to prevent soil compaction.

“We don’t do that recreational tillage,” he said. “That’s kind of the joke, you know, but it does save on fuel.”

When it comes down to preserving the farm that sustained his family for four generations, Bruce Berggren chalks it up to luck;

Deb Berggren attributes it to her husband’s conservative nature.

“It’s what you do,” he explained. “Spring comes you plant. Fall comes you harvest. It’s not something you think about or at least I don’t.

“There’s a lot of luck involved and you’ve got to pay attention to what you do. If you get carried away it might work out, but it might not. You never know.”

It’s a way of life the Berggrens said they’re blessed to live.

“When we’re sitting on our deck, we just look at each other and think ‘We don’t need to get away, do we?’ This is our get away,” said Deb Berggren. “We have what people search for right here. It’s a good life.”