NEAR CROOKSTON, Minn. — Being a farm girl, there’s almost nothing I enjoy more than going for a drive in the country. Recently I ventured out to a lovely spot near Crookston to which I had never been before.
The beauty and anticipated forthcoming bounty of the fields along the way nearly took my breath away. Then it was for sure gone when I gazed upon Ronny Jaeck Reitmeier’s high tunnel tomatoes.
A party began late that afternoon on the very farmstead Ronny’s great-great grandfather purchased in 1919 for Ronny’s great grandfather and his new family. Ronny, the adopted son of John Reitmeier, is the fifth generation caretaker of this land. He says absolutely everything done there is with sustainability as the No. 1 goal.
John Reitmeier threw the party for two reasons: To celebrate his son Ronny’s graduation from the University of Minnesota, Crookston, with a degree in agronomy, and so that all extended members of the Reitmeier family could meet Michael and Debby Terry who were visiting from Charles Town, W. Va.
It may all sound somewhat complicated, but it really isn’t. First of all you should know that adoption is in John Reitmeier’s blood. He and his sister, Jane Reitmeier, were adopted by Willard and Grace Reitmeier now both deceased.
Two years ago I was blessed to be able to help John find his biological roots. We learned his biological mother, Virginia Terry, died in 2001, but that he had a brother (Michael Terry), a sister-in-law (Debby Terry) and two beautiful nieces, Megan and Meredith. In fact, I traveled to Charles Town in April of 2012 to be with John and his sister Jane when they met Michael and Debby for the first time.
Now, Michael and Debby were in Minnesota and with Ronny’s graduation it was time to rejoice with good food, beverages and celebration cake on the patio.
Seated from left: Michael Terry and John Reitmeier. Standing left: Debby Terry and John’s sister Jane Reitmeier
As an organic farmer, Ronny is in his glory. And, does he ever have a story to tell.
From Berlin, Germany, Ronny was orphaned as a young child. “I grew up very very poor,” he said. After their parents died, he lived with an older sister. Some years later, John heard about him from a former foreign exchange student. After learning that help was needed on the Reitmeier farm, “God decided it should be me,” Ronny said. “There are no random acts. I had to be brave, too, and I feel so blessed. I never realized my life could turn this way after being orphaned at 11.“
Ronny thoroughly enjoyed showing guests his organic gardens where he is growing carrots, squash, potatoes and corn. He has a high tunnel hot house chock full of tomato plants and is selling his produce to Whitey’s restaurant, East Grand Forks, Sanders 1907 restaurant, Grand Forks, and at area farmers markets.
Check out Ronny’s website at: www.ronny’sfarmtotable.com
It surely was nice being out at the Reitmeier farm and meeting members of John and Jane’s family on both their mothers’ and their fathers’ sides of the family.
I loved seeing Michael and Debby again, too, and I came away totally impressed by Ronny.