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Family Hopes to Show Gorbachev Typical American Farm

June 1, 1990

FARMINGTON, Minn. (AP) _ Nothing’s official yet, but word that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev might visit their farm Sunday, maybe even sit at their picnic table, has the Brand family in turmoil.

″I’m kind of overwhelmed,″ said Greg Brand, 31, who operates the farm with his parents, Richard and Cecilia, and his 27-year-old brother, John.

There was too little notice for the Brands to do a lot of preparation: about enough time to get the barn cleaned and the lawn mowed.

If possible, they’d like to paint the picnic table. That’s where the Brands hope to sit and talk with Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, telling them about their family and the farm. The talk would shift to the kitchen table in the event of rain.

″I’ll clean the house if I have time,″ said Mrs. Brand, who learned of the possible visit on Wednesday.

″We think of ours as a typical American farm and want to convey what American farm life is like,″ she said. ″We want to welcome them here. This is our opportunity to promote some little bit of international understanding.″

A farm stop had been suggested for Gorbachev’s visit but later ruled out because he expected to spend only six hours in Minnesota. The prospect resurfaced Wednesday, however, and state agriculture officials came up with the Brand farm, in part because it’s just 45 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Mrs. Brand said she had been told the Soviet president probably would arrive at the farm about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, after his meeting with business and agricultural leaders in downtown Minneapolis. How long he’ll stay isn’t clear, but it won’t be long.

Richard and Cecilia Brands have 75 dairy cows and raise alfalfa, corn and soybeans on the 240-acre farm they’ve held for 32 years.

It’s a picturesque farm with a large white barn, two white machine sheds and a two-story white house with black shutters where the elder Brands live.

The Brands aren’t strangers to the job of entertaining foreign visitors, and think that may be one reason they were chosen as potential hosts to the Gorbachevs.

″We do have a lot of foreign people who come here. We’ve had several Chinese and Japanese and quite a few European groups,″ Mrs. Brand said. The farm’s easy access from the Twin Cities could help explain why state officials frequently steer visitors her way.

Despite the farm’s proximity to the city, the black and white Holsteins sunning themselves in a large meadow surrounded by electric fence present the perfect photo opportunity for a quick shot of rural America.

The Gorbachevs, however, would be the first famous visitors.

All the activity wasn’t having much effect on Mrs. Brand’s 4-year-old granddaughter, Allison, who was more interested in playing with the gray kitten that wandered up than with preparations for the Gorbachev visit.

″She just knows that the Russians are coming,″ said her mother, Brenda Brand.

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