Cultivating Soy Beans on the Family Farm

Above: Photo by my Dad, Edward Alinder, c.1960, Le Sueur County, Minnesota

How farming has changed! Most of our food was once grown on small family farms like the one where I grew up.  Yes, the photo above is me, cultivating a soy bean field.  I appear to be about 16 years old, which would date the photo to c. 1960. This job took concentration, as you had to steer the tractor carefully between the rows to avoid running over the soy beans, while the cultivator dug up the soil to kill the weeds.  Later, we would “walk the beans,”  which involved walking up and down the field with a machete to whack out weeds growing within the rows. My brother John,  who farmed for many years, tells me that driving cultivators through the fields is pretty much history.  Most farmers now plant Monsanto’s genetically-modified Roundup Ready  seeds, then spray with Roundup, a popular herbicide.

As you can see, my relationship with soy beans is long-standing.  While it is now on the consumption end (miso, soy sauce, tofu), it began on the production side when I was oh so young.

—Gary Alinder, February 11, 2010


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