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 activities.

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.

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Couldn't Be Better

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