The Oltjenbruns family members gather at the old homestead in celebration of the Colorado Centennial Farm honor they received at the state fair. Milton and Leona, pictured to the left and right of the sign, join their sons Nolan, at left, and Ken, who manage the farm together. — Johnson Publications

Oltjenbruns family receives Centennial Farm designation

    Passed down the family line for 100 years, M&L Oltjenbruns Farms has recently received the Colorado Centennial Farms designation. At an Aug. 25 ceremony at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, the Oltjenbruns children, Ken, Nolan and Cheryl Schutz, along with their father, Milton — the “M” in M&L — and Cheryl’s son, David, accepted the recognition on behalf of the family.
    The farm, which is located about 7 miles northeast of Holyoke, covers 3,500 acres and still yields wheat and corn to this day.
    As Governor John Hickenlooper said at the awards ceremony, the centennial farms have been through the Great Depression, multiple recessions, evolving technology, new markets and the advent of global trade. Through all the changes, however, Milton said, “This farm’s been good to us.”
    Hickenlooper commended the families who have been long-term stewards of the land over multiple generations, noting they are at the heart of Colorado entrepreneurship.
    It was Ken, Nolan and Cheryl’s great-grandparents who first settled the family farmstead. August and Emma Welper moved there in 1917. Their daughter Amelia married Harry Oltjenbruns, and they moved to the farm in 1939. Their son Milton and his wife, Leona, took over farm operations in 1947 and stayed until 1986 when they retired to Holyoke.
    It was at that time that Ken, who lives in Fort Collins, began managing the farm. Nolan has since begun traveling back and forth from his own home in Denver to share in the management role. Looking to the fifth generation, David is planning to take on some of the business-related responsibilities.
    Since the Colorado Centennial Farms program began in 1986, 550 Colorado farms and ranches have been recognized. The Oltjenbruns farm is one of 15 in Phillips County.
    In addition, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized the Oltjenbruns family for maintaining historic buildings that are over 50 years old with the Historic Structure Award. The house on their farm far surpasses the requirement, as it was built in 1915. Committed to continued preservation, Nolan and Ken are currently in the process of restoring the home they grew up in.

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