A hardworking, fun-loving couple, farming is in Geoffrey and Leann Johnson’s blood.
Leann grew up a farm girl near Mountain Lake. She and Geof met at a neighbor’s hoedown. They’ve been married 38 years and made their home on Geof’s family farm near Windom.
They have two adult daughters, Kari and Lisa, and three granddaughters, with a grandson on the way. “Our girls are everything for us,” Leann said.
Johnsons are active in the community, helping with things like fundraising for the State Theatre, serving on the township board and supporting FFA. Leann recently spearheaded a successful project to preserve a 120-year-old stone house at Pat’s Grove County Park just 3.5 miles from their farm in Cottonwood County. The Johnsons are also donors to the Southwest Initiative Foundation General Endowment.
With their own land plus property rented from 10 different landowners, including the Remick property owned by Southwest Initiative Foundation through our Keep It Growing℠ program, they farm about 2,600 acres. They credit support from others to get them started as young farmers and later grow their business.
“We appreciate all of our landowners,” Geof said. “It’s a privilege to use their land.”
Advice from one landlord has always stuck with Geof. “The more you give, the more you get,” he said.
That’s a big reason Geof started mentoring Zachary Walton. Zac grew up on a farm near Bricelyn, Minn. He attended South Central College for diesel mechanics where he met Kari and Lisa who were attending Minnesota State University-Mankato. In 2011, Geof’s father, who was also his farming partner, passed away. Geof invited Zac to help in the shop and with fieldwork for the summer.
“It was meant to be,” Leann said. “He’s just like part of the family. We couldn’t do it without him.”
Zac agrees it’s a good fit. It’s something he enjoys, does well and can do to make a good living. “When I was a kid, I wanted to farm, too,” Zac said. “I just didn’t have the opportunity.”
Since they started working together in all areas of the business, Zac has purchased a farm site and acquired more rental acres, and he’s married and started his own family. Future plans for passing on the farm include Zac, as well as the Johnsons’ daughters. “The funnest part is that my daughters found my farming partner for me,” Geof said.
It’s also been a good partnership between the Johnson family and Southwest Initiative Foundation.
“I like to see the dollars at work,” Geof said. “I’m earning a living and helping the community at the same time.”