TEAM Members

Coming together from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, our skilled team of professionals is the backbone of the Organic Farm TEAM. Our experience and ideas support growers implementing regenerative and organic management. 

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TODD DENBESTEN

Owner, Dakota's Best Seed

Todd has worked in their family seed business his whole life. Starting out in the beginning sweeping floors and stacking bags of seed now is the owner of Dakota’s Best Seed and still, by the way, continues to sweep floors, run seed cleaning mills, and stack bags along with the many other duties that come with running the company. DenBesten Seed Co. was started by his grandfather Case DenBesten and his father Lowell on their farm East of Platte in 1963 before moving the operation to town in 1968.

 

Now the company know as Dakota’s best Seed continues to do many of the same things that where done in the beginning such as cleaning many different types of seed products and has in recent years expanded in to other ventures such as achieving the status as a Certified Organic cleaning facility and, being driven by grower demand,  launching a lineup of NON-GMO and Organic seed corn known as DenBesten Brand.

 

Being a seedsman and operating a 1200 acre conventional and organic farm keeps him in tune with real life, in the field, grower challenges and is able to offer down to earth advice to the growers the company works with.

MAE PETREHN

Production Protocol Manager & Transition Toolkits Program Coordinator

Mae’s goal is to provide growers with relevant technical knowledge about regenerative and organic systems. Part of her position is to coordinate our Transition Toolkit program, guiding growers through the organic transition process. Her background is in organic certification and inspection, feedlot compliance, ranch management and grazing planning. In 2011, she completed an M.S. in Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University, as well as Certification to teach Holistic Management via Holistic Management International. Mae believes that organic industry offers opportunities for farms to diversify and be compensated for their land stewardship, and hopes she can be part of accessing organic easier for growers all over the Midwest.

 

To stay busy Mae runs a pastured sheep enterprise on her farm outside of New London, MN while updating an ancient farmhouse. With any free time left, she loves reading, improving her dog training skills with her border collie Zak, and hunting with her partner Shon. 

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HERB HASENKAMP

Sales Manager

Herb Hasenkamp was raised on a small farm in northeast Nebraska where he resides today with his wife Karina and the three sons.  He attended the University of Nebraska and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy in 1997. During college Herb learned about organic production and began the process to certify the family farm in 1994.

 

Following college Herb returned to the farm and has been involved in the seed business his entire career. The family farm has grown in acres and continues to grow corn, soybeans, and alfalfa.  Herb is responsible for record keeping, grain marketing, and field work along with his families help.

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J. DREW FOSTER

Fertility and Soil Health Specialist

Drew’s goal is to help build healthy soils that produce nutrient dense forage, feed and food, enable an efficient and profitable operation, and create a legacy for generations to come. 

 

Drew has a B.S. in Entomology, second major in Zoology, and a strong background in Agronomy from Colorado State University (1978).  Fresh out of college he founded Foster Agricultural Services, Belle Mead, N.J., working primarily with fertilizer and pesticide applications on turf, trees, ornamentals, and horse farms.  He helped develop the integrated pest management program (IPM) for ornamentals in N.J., led by Somerset County Extension.  He ran a test market in N.J. for gypsy moth pheromone traps made by Hercon Corporation.  Drew helped develop RhizoChar, a microbe-infused biochar product, in N.J.  He has worked in sales and services related to biologicals and soil health improvement, field mapping (EC, yield, etc.), production zone development, and precision irrigation, in Nebraska since moving there in 2008.  Drew has a long-held interest in reducing chemical inputs in ag and livestock production and has ultimately turned his primary focus to organics.

 

Drew raises dairy and meat goats and enjoys working with the family horses with his two adult daughters and he tends a large vegetable garden in Emmet, Nebraska.  Any outdoor activity is good with Drew, especially if it involves water and sailboats – a throw-back to his N.J. roots.

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SAM HEIKES

Agronomy and Sales, Dakota's Best Seed

Sam Heikes was raised on a diverse crop and livestock farm near Vermillion, SD. He obtained a degree in Range Management from Montana State University, and later earned degrees in Agronomy and Animal Science at South Dakota State University. Sam dove right into seed production on the family farm and specialized in sunflowers with Sigco. He began working with the DenBesten family in the mid 1980’s, and worked for seven seed companies in seven states, with extensive work with nearly 20 field crops.

 

In 2010 Sam retired back to the family farm and now helps operate a fruit and vegetable CSA serving around 500 families in the Vermillion area. Since 2017 Sam has helped Dakotas Best with development of their organic seed program. Sam enjoys time with his 4 children and grandchildren, also serving as a lay minister; a “sower of the seeds of eternity.”

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MEGAN VAITH

Agent, Northbourne Crop Insurance

Megan has been involved in agriculture all her life. Growing up on a farm outside of Granville, Iowa, she learned that hard work and determination drive positive results. Upon graduating from South Dakota State University with an Agricultural Business degree, she began working in crop insurance and found passion in helping farmers mitigate their risk. She works relentlessly to understand each producer’s goals and needs to build a risk management plan tailored to your financial success. Along with staying up to date on the crop insurance changes, Megan also remains informed on the farm bill changes and FSA programs to make sure her farmers are set up for success.

 

Megan and her family reside outside of Scotland, South Dakota where they help manage a farm consisting of crops and cattle. Being heavily involved in agriculture gives her a sense of understanding with her customers as she is experiencing many of the same struggles they do, such as swings in market price and adverse weather. Her and her husband, Jason have one son, Noah. In their free time, they enjoy going on side-by-side rides to check the cattle, playing at the park, and attending all the local sporting events.

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RANDY STRATTON

President, SecurCrop

Randy has owned and managed various marketing, advertising and event management companies for over 25 years serving the agriculture, finance and bioscience sectors in North America and Europe. 

He has also managed and directed staff to deliver core services including brand development, product launch, market research, focus groups, sales strategy and public relations.

 

Randy has also developed vertical market strategies including online and print forums, and sales strategies in the agriculture industry, sustainable foods market, and bioscience industries. Currently, he serves as President of SecurCrop Organics, with a focus on developing sales channels and strategic partnerships in the global food and ingredients market. 

© 2021 Dakota's Best Seed and Organic Farm Team