Moonstone Farm owners named Outstanding Conservationists of the Year

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News
Audrey Arner and Richard Handeen, owners and operators of Moonstone Farm,  were awarded the title Chippewa County Outstanding Conservationists of the Year for 2021.

Audrey Arner and Richard Handeen, owners of Moonstone Farm in rural Montevideo, have been named Chippewa County Outstanding Conservationists of the Year by the Chippewa County Soil and Water Conservation District. 

The nomination from the Chippewa County Soil and Water Conservation District included an invitation to a board meeting in early December where the couple was presented with a Terry Redlin print titled, “The Conservationist”. Additionally, they were invited to attend the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s State Convention in Bloomington in a ceremony that included more than 600 conservation professionals and outstanding conservationist nominees from all over Minnesota. 

Handeen and Arner attended the ceremony on December 14th at an awards luncheon sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District with emcee support from The Farmer magazine. At the ceremony, the following statement, provided by the Chippewa County Soil and Water Conservation District, was read:

Chippewa SWCD presents Audrey Arner and Richard Handeen, owners and operators of Moonstone Farm, a 240-acre organic and perennial polyculture on the bluffland of the Minnesota River Valley. Audrey and Richard acknowledge their privilege of farming on Dakotah homeland. Over 45 years, they converted a corn and soybean bi-culture to a perennial and diverse landscape, created water catchment and extensive woody plantings for wildlife, conservation, timber, fruits, nuts, ornamentals and medicinals.  Early on they enrolled acreage into RIM; in support of the grass-based cattle herd and controlled grazing, they installed waterlines through EQIP; and, upon certification, developed a stream crossing through the MN Ag Water Quality program. Through solar technology and continuous living cover, the farm runs primarily on sunlight.