Your Trust: Cream of the Crop

Barn Again! honors best restorations.


Brad Thykeson in front of his barn

Credit: Jim Lindberg

Back in the '80s, when Brad Thykeson noticed his old barn in Portland, N.D., leaning to the east, he was tempted just to demolish it and start over. But his sister, Michelle Cota, who had heard of the Trust's Barn Again! program while studying at Concordia College in Minnesota, persuaded him to straighten out the c. 1910 structure and reuse it instead. After replacing the shingles and windows a couple of years ago, he thought the place looked "pretty sharp," so he entered it in a barn beauty pageant, where it took the top prize.

Each year, the Trust, in partnership with Successful Farming magazine, presents the Farm Heritage Award to a family that has rehabilitated or maintained its historic barn for daily agricultural use. The winner receives $1,000; four other winners receive a Recognition Award and $250.

Since starting in 1987, Barn Again! has helped thousands of farmers save and reuse old barns by providing them with technical help in maintaining and adapting these classic old structures.

"The idea behind Barn Again! was to demonstrate that these barns were still great for agriculture," says Jim Lindberg, of the mountains/plains office, who oversees the program. "We want to recognize those that have been brought back to life, but also those that have been well maintained."

Thykeson, whose family has been on the farm since 1938, keeps cattle as a hobby and says he likes the sense of continuity the barn gives his place. "I enjoy it because it completes the farm. It's a reminder of my grandfather's days of milking the cows."

This year's recognition awards went to Wayne Gularte of Salinas, Calif.; Doug and Ruby (Helinger) Bussell of Shelby, Mont.; Scott and Ed Bender of Mitchell, S.D.; and the Faeth family of Fort Madison, Iowa.  The winners were announced in the March issue of Successful Farming. The prize money for this year was provided by Toy Farmer Publications.

The deadline for next year's contest is July 15, 2007.

For more of this article, look for the May/June 2007 issue on newsstands or e-mail us to purchase a copy. Subscribe to the magazine.  

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