(Originally published on Nov. 8, 2021)By John Lauritsen

LOWRY, Minn. (WCCO) — A farmer in western Minnesota has a YouTube channel that’s approaching 1 million subscribers. Zach Johnson farms near the town of Lowry, but he’s best known for what he posts online.

During harvest season, Johnson gravitates towards two things — his crops and his camera. It’s why he’s known as the Millennial Farmer.

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“I’m 37, so I’m an elderly millennial,” Johnson said.

Millennial Farmer also happens to be the name of the YouTube channel he started five years ago. At first, he just wanted to give people a glimpse into rural America.

“I had one video do 100,000 views in the first week, which at the time was just crazy,” Johnson said.

Now, he has more than 850,000 subscribers. About half are non-farmers.

“The cool thing we’ve noticed is we get everyone from 2-year-olds to 100-year-olds,” Johnson said.

The videos feature everyday challenges, like stuck equipment and flat tires to harvesting in the snow.

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It’s a team effort. Johnson’s wife edits what he brings back. During harvest season they make about five videos a week.

“People ask how I come up with materials and how I plan for these things, I don’t,” Johnson said. “This is what’s happening day to day on the family farm.”

Humor is mixed in with the challenges and the fixes.

Johnson and his family donate a lot of the YouTube money they get from Millennial Farmer to an organization that helps farm families in crisis. Some of the money also goes to fire departments for training and equipment that can help with grain bin rescues.

The Johnsons feel it’s the right thing to do. It’s their chance to educate and inspire.

“The biggest thing I’d like to get across is to highlight the fact that farmers are people. And we are still the same family farmers out here doing what we’ve done for hundreds of years. The same people out here that love the land and take care of the land,” Johnson said.

Johnson doesn’t have livestock so in the winter he will visit dairy and poultry farms to highlight what those farmers are doing.

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John Lauritsen