In 2012, Scott Klevberg harvested more than crops. This year, along with his potatoes, corn and beans, he gathered in a bumper crop of friendship, hosting an unlikely visitor from Norway.
Klevberg, 36, lives in rural Hatton, N.D., and farms individually and in Goose River Farms LLP, a partnership based in nearby Northwood. This year, one of Klevberg’s harvest crew members was a 23-year-old musician from Oslo, Norway — another Klevberg.
This one was Ole (“Ooh-luh”) Klevberg.
Ole grew up at Alta, Norway, a city of about 19,000 people on the Altafjord. The town is billed as the world’s northernmost city of over 10,000 inhabitants. Among other things, it is famous for its view of the Northern Lights., an ice hotel and salmon fishing.
Three years ago, Ole had moved with his family to southern Norway, to the national capital city, Oslo. Ole works as a “barista,” or coffee drink maker at a shop, and is working toward a career as a folk musician, playing an electric guitar and singing his own songs.
The Klevberg rendezvous is one of those internet plays.
Scott is proud of his Norwegian heritage. He recently inherited a set of wheat samples that were raised on the Klevberg farm nearly 100 years ago, by his great grandfather Sondre E. Klevberg, who emigrated from Norway in the 1880s. Scott farms some of the same land today, four generations later.
A year ago, Scott discovered there are relatively few people in the world with the last name Klevberg. The young farmer got on Facebook and sought out Klevbergs in Norway.“I ‘friended’ some of them, and some accepted the friend requests,” Scott says. “I posted pictures from the farm,” he says.
One of the Facebook contacts was Ole’s father, Arild Klevberg. He wrote to Scott in August and told him that Arild’s son, Ole, was planning a trip to the United States. Arild asked whether Scott might host Ole at the farm. Scott said sure.
“Cousin” Ole flew into Chicago in mid-September and took his guitar and laptop on the Amtrak to Fargo. Scott’s aunt, Chris and Joanne Barke of Fargo hosted him for breakfast, and he was shuttled to an irrigated potato field at Scott’s “spud camp” harvest campaign, near Kathryn.
On Sept. 19, young Ole went right to work at a wind-blown potato harvest, putting in hours on a potato grading table working to keep up with a crew of 14.. He had no experience driving a vehicle, but picked up some of that experience within the farming operations. Finished at Kathryn, the crew moved back to the Northwood area, where they tackled red, non-irrigated potatoes, soybeans and corn. They finished the corn harvest on Oct. 22, two days before Ole got back on the train to head west.
“He wanted to help out, and do whatever,” Scott says, of his visitor. “He did a damn good job. He left here being a top-notch driver, moving trucks around in the fields, and back and forth” within the farm.
On Oct. 5, Ole performed at Northwood’s “Hut” bar with his music – mostly original compositions about relationships, with soulful, yearning twists.
“He played every night at my place,” Scott says. “It’s been great. I hate to see him leave. We’ve become very good friends, you know.”
After the potato harvest, Ole went for a ride in a Pitt, a two-seated airplane owned by Ethan Grindeland from Hatton. “He’d never been in a small plane before,” Scott says.
Ole also fired his first guns, and said he enjoyed it, despite describing himself as a pacifist. He enjoyed buying boots at the RCC Western Store in Grand Forks, and traveling to Oslo, Minn., to take a picture with the city signs. Scott also took him to the Norsk Hostfest
Ole stayed at Scott’s farm home and did a little Norwegian cooking. He topped it off with a parting dessert from Norway — the Queen Maud pudding, involving dark chocolate.
For his part, Ole says he’s interested in how hard-working people are in North Dakota.
“Everybody’s been very nice and friendly,” Ole says. “I’ve never been on a farm before, so I don’t know how different it is (from Norwegian farms). For me, it’s very different. When I worked in a coffee shop, you start working at a time that is set. Here, it’s more like we go until it’s dark or you’re too tired.”
On Oct. 24, Ole was off to perform musical gigs in Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles, Phoenix and Ft. Collins, Colo., before heading back to Chicago and then out of the country. Ole definitely says he plans to come back, even though he may not be blood-related to the Klevberg who adopted him for a month.
“I would say we’re like family … but probably not related,” Ole says.