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Your Town Tuesday: The Unique People, Places, and Things of Clear Lake [VIDEO]

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Unloading Grain at Clear Lake Farmers’ Elevators
Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON News

CLEAR LAKE – This week on “Your Town Tuesday” we are featuring the town of Clear Lake. As you drive down Highway 10 you start to see bins coming up over the skyline. Those are the bins at the Clear Lake Farmers’ Elevator.

Clear Lake has been the hub for grain exchange since the late 1800s. Farmers bring in their grain from the farms, get weighed, dump the grain, and sell it to the elevator. Jolie Roske is the manager at Clear Lake Farmers’ Elevator.

She says, “The Clear Lake Farmer’s Co-Op became a Co-Op back in 1958. That basically means that it’s farmer owned. Farmers bring in grain products to sell, they buy into the elevator, and then they do actually become owners of the Co-Op themselves. Then it becomes the elevator’s grain, and then that’s used in the feed product here or it’s sold to another elevator. We do offer storage here to, so some of the grain that comes in is actually put into a bin and it’s actually owned by the owner of the grain and then at their time they can either sell or pick up the grain if they choose to sell at a later date.”

The elevator serves a wide area of farms ranging from the Foley area to Elk River, and from Monticello as far as St. Joseph. Roske says the elevator is mainly dealing with hobby farms that range from five to ten acres.

She credits the previous manages for the Co-Op’s success.

I think the guys did a really good job of managing it back in the day and kind of got the Clear Lake Farmer’s Elevator name out there. I think that people kind of associate the elevator with that, and like I said it’s been around as a Co-Op for many,  many years.


Clear Lake Farmers Elevator
Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON News


The Clear Lake Farmers’ Elevators just completed an expansion back in 2012, adding a showroom for all the retail products that the coop sells.

Roske says, “It would be the latest addition to the building here. Basically that was an add on for more of our retail products, just because we are expanding, we have so many products that we’ve probably always had but we were never really able to put it in a showroom to show people that we actually carry these products.”

Next stop in Clear Lake, and I know some people think that it’s too early, but according to Jan Donelson, owner and Jan’s Christmas Tree Farm, and Executive Director of the Minnesota Christmas Tree Association, Christmas Trees are a year round project.


Christmas Trees at Jan’s Christmas Tree Farm
Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON News
Jan’s Christmas Tree Farm
Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON News

"It’s kind of just such a good fit."Donelson is a full time tree grower. She works year round preparing trees for their wholesale operation, which  goes through 15,000 – 20,000 trees per year, as well as their cut your own tree event every winter.

Donelson says, “Those whole sale ones go out to nurseries, landscape place, any place that you’ve seen a lot set up in a city. We have a big cut your own, Santa flies in on a helicopter, sleigh rides are happening, the bonfires going, the blacksmith is out here so there’s a little bit of something to do for everybody”

There are many Christmas Tree Farms around the Clear Lake area. Donelson says it’s because of the sandy soil, which allows pines to grow extremely well. It takes about eight to twelve years for a Christmas Tree to be ready to take home.


Over those years, Donelson has made some great memories on her farm. One of her favorites is seeing everyone each and every year.

She says, “You see people come and go and you see their families grow, and we all grow together. Every year we gather around the bonfire, and I hug more people and give them wishes. It is like an extended family, and I can’t ever imagine a Christmas without it.”

Jan’s Cut Your Own Christmas Tree begins in November.

You can’t go to Clear Lake with out going to McDonald’s Meats. Click Here for to view our “Frozen in Time” story about this long time meat market.

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