Couldn't Be Better: The Russian Farm Community Project
The Story of Two People: One American, One Russian, and Their
Dream for Rural Russia
By Dr. LaVern Freeh.
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University
Libraries, Fargo, North Dakota, 2000, 224 pages, softcover.
A new book, just out! Written by Dr. LaVern Freeh, a native North
Dakotan and graduate of North Dakota State University, Fargo.
The book traces the history of a project in which the author has
been involved in Russia and the joint efforts of U.S. and Russian
people in creating a model for privatizing and revitalizing rural
Russian communities following the collapse of Communism.
The author takes the reader behind the scenes to see how the project
came into being and how it has evolved.
He highlights the role of such prominent Americans as Armand Hammer
and Robert Schuller; the outstanding leadership provided by Ralph
Hofstad, former President and CEO of Land O'Lakes, Inc. and Andrew
Danelinko, Hofstad's counterpart in Russia and the contributions
of many others, Russian and American.
Read about the partnerships which were formed with people, universities,
private organizations and government and how the project has touched
a broad spectrum of people from the young to the elderly. Learn
about the Project's accomplishments and its failures, and the plaudits
it has received.
This book is an outstanding review of what can happen when people
put aside their cultural and nationalistic differences and work
together for the common good of all. Or as Margaret Meade put it,
"never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people
can change the world, indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
Praise for the Russian Farm Community Project
"I was able to gain an appreciation of the highly productive work
you are doing and to pick up some insights into Russian agriculture
as well . . . I am pleased that we are now supporting your work through
our Food for Progress Program."
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman
at the project site in 1995
"My country can never repay you for what you, the Russian Farm
Community Project, and your supporters are doing to assist our rural
communities at this time of great need . . . but rest assured, we
are most grateful for those efforts and we shall try in every way
possible to demonstrate that your investments in our future, and
yours, are well placed."
Russian Ambassador Yuri Vorestosov
addressing RFCP board members in
Washington, D.C. in 1997
"My dream has always been to develop a successful public/private
relationship which will assure the social and economic well-being
of the people in my Raion . . . Through the Russian Farm Community
Project, that dream is being realized."
Viktor V. Gravilov,
Chief Administrator (Governor)
of Dmitrov to RFCP board members in 1997
"The RFCP dairy initiative truly represents a new beginning
for agriculture in this region creating new sources of income, more
jobs and greater opportunities for the people of the Dmitrov Raion
and equally important more critically needed high quality wholesome
milk for the children of the region."
The Honorable James Collins
U.S. Ambassador to Russia at project site, June, 1999
At the request of the author, the proceeds from the sale of
this book will be divided equally between the Russian Farm Community
Project, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Moscow, Russia, and the Germans
from Russia Heritage Collection at the North Dakota State University
Libraries, Fargo, North Dakota.
About the Author
LaVern Freeh grew up on a farm near Harvey, North Dakota during
the great depression, the son of parents who were called "Germans
from Russia" because their parents, while of German descent, had
lived in South Russia (today southern Ukraine) for a period of time
before immigrating to America.
Freeh served in the Marine Corps following graduation from Harvey
High School; taught in a one-room country school for a year after
returning from the Marines. He attended North Dakota State University
(then called the North Dakota Agricultural College) on a football
scholarship and the GI Bill; taught and coached football at Linton,
North Dakota High School; served as assistant football coach and
instructor at Michigan State University, was a professor and administrator
at the University of Minnesota for 18 years and Vice President for
Public and International Affairs at Land O'Lakes, Inc., a fortune
500 company, for 12 years.
He received his Bachelors of Science Degree from North Dakota
State University and his Masters of Science and PhD. Degrees from
Michigan State University. His career has taken him to 65 countries
and involved him in a broad range of business and economic development
He has received many awards and citations, and has spent time
with world leaders such as Anwar Sadat and Fidel Castro.
In 1968 the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany honored
him; in 1969 the President of Finland knighted him; in 1977 he received
the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from North Dakota State
University; in 1980 he received the Extraordinary Service Award
from the University of Minnesota; and in 1991 he was inducted into
the North Dakota State University Athletic Hall of Fame.
An active participant in the Russian Farm Community Project since
the beginning, he has been involved in various activities in Russia
since the mid-1970s.
Freeh and his wife, Lois, live in California part of the year
and in Minnesota the rest of the year. He is actively engaged in
a broad array of activities as a consultant and speaker/lecturer
at both locations.
With the Author