Nystroms are Nobles County Farm Family of the Year

The Aaron and Kia Nystrom family is the 2022 Nobles County Farm Family of the Year. They found out they’d received the honor this past summer and Kia Nystrom described it as a humbling experience.

“At first we didn’t necessarily feel deserving of it because we think there are a lot of other great farmers in our county, but we decided that it’s also an opportunity for us to highlight all that is agriculture and what drives the economy in southwest Minnesota,” Nystrom said.

The family is the fourth generation of the Nystroms to live on the original family homestead south of Worthington. They own and operate Nystrom Orchard.

Nystrom said she and Aaron grew up near each other and then lived in the Twin Cities during and after college. They then decided to move back to the family farm and not only keep it going, but invest in it and make it sustainable long term.

“Everything that we’ve done since that decision day is to hopefully provide an opportunity for our kids to come back if they choose to come back, and that’s their decision,” Nystrom said.

That has included expanding the orchard into something more than a time-intensive hobby.

“When I married him I knew that they were always producing great fruit and it was just being bagged up and sold in a small garage shed,” Nystrom said. “Over the last decade I’ve had the desire to turn it into a destination in southwest Minnesota where it’s more than just apples in a bag.”

Nystrom said they’ve created an experience at the orchard that is similar to a winery. They host tasting events where people can come and taste food and learn about different varieties of apples. The tasting events include an appetizer, main course and dessert featuring apples and other products grown on their farm or by other producers in the area.

The Nystroms make a variety of products from the apples they grow including Dutch apple pie, applesauce and cold press cider. They’re also working on wine, vodka and apple cider vinegar.

“Every year we have the goal to do a new product and this year was salted caramel dip that we made and people loved it,” Nystrom said. “We just try to keep coming up with new ideas.”

In 2020 the Nystroms built a new facility for events at their property and this fall they expanded it to add a commercial kitchen. Nystrom said she’s excited to see what opportunities the new addition will provide.

She said her overarching goal for their operation is to connect the community through the senses to agriculture.

“Everything I do, I think of how can we connect through all five senses and be a resource of agriculture to our community to teach and learn and grow, and create lasting memories with their family and friends,” Nystrom said. “That’s what we set out to do.”

Nystrom Orchard is open from Labor Day to Halloween with pop up hours and events throughout the year. Fall is their busy season. Nystrom said they hope to have an open house for their new space in December or January. For more information visit nystromorchard.com.

In addition to the orchard, the Nystroms grow corn and soybeans, have a small cow/calf operation and operate a feedlot. They also work full-time off the farm. Aaron is a veterinarian and Kia works in animal health on dairies. 

The Nystroms have three children who are 5, 8 and 10. Nystrom said the kids know how to do every job on the orchard and that one of her goals is to instill a good work ethic in them.

“I want them to know how to help a customer and be a host and serve others and it is a huge goal and desire of mine to teach them the value of work as they grow up,” she said. 

Nystrom said the family keeps busy and that their family members help make it all work.