Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dowells named Itasca Farm Family of the Year by UMN Extension

Wililyn and Justin Dowell are the 2024 Itasca Farm Family of the Year.
Wililyn and Justin Dowell are the 2024 Itasca Farm Family of the Year.

Wililyn and Justin Dowell have a 10-acre hobby farm in Grand Rapids. The University of Minnesota names a farm family annually.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Dowell family of Grand Rapids was named the University of Minnesota’s Itasca County Farm Family of the Year.

Farm families are chosen annually, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees.

Wililyn Dowell lived on a farm in the Philippines until she was 12. She and her husband Justin, a disabled veteran, moved to their 10-acre hobby farm in Grand Rapids in 2005.

Wililyn worked in real estate, the mortgage industry and property rentals but was drawn back to her agricultural roots during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dowells started a farm operation in 2022.

The Dowells got three greenhouses and started a farm, growing everything from traditional vegetables like tomatoes and beans to flowers and herbs. They also experiment with Asian produce such as long beans, bitter melon, Japanese eggplant and okra, reflecting Wililyn's cultural heritage and diverse agricultural knowledge.

The Dowells produce food using organic methods and no chemical pesticides, prioritizing sustainable farming practices.

Wililyn runs a booth at the Grand Rapids Farmers Market serves as an aggregation manager, fostering collaboration between vendors and local businesses. She’s also part of the Master Gardener program and helps connect emerging farmers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to a news release from the University of Minnesota Extension, there will be a presentation by the Itasca County Board at its June 25 meeting. The Dowells will also be recognized during the Itasca County Fair and at Farmfest near Redwood Falls, both in August.