Interview with Jim Mortenson
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater
Though steeped in history and tradition, Mortenson Bros. Farms, Inc. did not come to fruition in a usual manner. Regardless, it would turn out to be one of the largest potato and vegetable operations in Wisconsin.
Brothers Gary (“Jack”) and James Mortenson owned Mortenson Brothers Trucking and Southside Tire in Antigo, Wisconsin. In the late 1960’s, they hauled potatoes for a farm that could not pay them for their services, so they took over part of the crop.
In the summer of 1968, Jack left Antigo to watch over their new potato investment, and, in 1973, he and James formed Mortenson Bros. Farms, Inc.
Today, Jack’s son, Jim Mortenson, is the president, owner and a working member of the farming operation.
“Every one of us kids earned our own money for school clothes. In the fall, from age nine on, we would grade potatoes down near Oxford, in the Plainfield area,” Jim says.
“Around the age of 14 or 15, I started filling seeders, and as soon as I got my license, my life changed. I worked full-time summers for my dad from age 15 on,” he says. “I started counting days until school started again.”
Jim helped in handling the irrigation, turning on and off pivots in the Central Sands soil.