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milking cows, serving up dairy
With an array of artisan cheeses and a creative mindset, Christine Leonard has taken a unique approach to being a part of her family’s dairy farm.
“I’m telling my story but also telling the story of other farmers and cheesemakers,” Leonard said. “I take a lot of pride in that.”
Leonard is the sixth generation on her family’s 45-cow dairy farm in Carver County near Norwood Young America. The daughter of Tim and Amy Leonard founded The Grater Good in 2020 as a way to support her farming endeavors.
The cheese board company provides hand-crafted charcuterie platters filled with fresh dairy products from area farmers, including cheeses made from cow, goat and sheep milks, and foods to compliments those...
nothing cheddar than this
Christine Leonard had a come to cheeses moment while attending an Honors College class at the University of Wisconsin-Stout on the geography of food.
In that class, the 2016 alumna, who grew up on a family-owned dairy farm near Waconia, Minn., really started to think about food and where it came from. “It made me think how we can support local farmers and what agriculture looks like for people who have not grown up in it,” said Leonard. “That inspired me...
six generations of good
It was a sweltering hot day when we stepped onto the Leonard Farm outside of Waconia, Minnesota, but the 45 registered Holstein cows were content as they lounged in a tunnel ventilated tie-stall barn, and the heifers munched on their total mixed ration (TMR) feed in the barnyard. A pen with two lambs sat in the shade next to the chicken coop full of clucking hens, all of which were watched over by the rooster, Tarzan, and farm dog, Belle. Christine Leonard farms this little slice of paradise with her parents and is the sixth generation to care for the 180-acre farm. ...
Before You Begin:
1) Find a Suitable Surface
I prefer a wooden or slate cutting board, but a plate or serving tray works just fine too.
2) Select Your Cheeses
I typically do 4: 1 soft, 1 adventours, 1 plain and 1 flavored. This gives a nice variety for your guests to have different "experiences" with each. If you're having this as an appetizer before a meal 2/3 oz/person total is a good go-to.
Local Dairy Farmer Starts Side Business Crafting Cheese Boards
Between Hydes and Rice lakes off Highway 5 rests the Leonard Family Farm, 160 acres of corn and alfalfa fields and dairy cows. It’s also home to The Grater Good, offering beautifully-created artisan cheese and meat boards, hearty bread baskets and cheese tasting sessions—culled, created and taught by someone who knows a thing or two about dairy. After all, it runs in her blood—and has for generations.
For six generations, Christine Leonard’s family has operated a dairy farm just west of the Twin Cities in Carver County. The family—the 2020 Carver County Farm Family of the Year—will celebrate its farming sesquicentennial next year. “I’ve loved cows for as long as I can remember, and most of my earliest memories are working alongside my family taking care of our land and animals,” she says.
Life is Cheesy
Katie: Joining me today for our fourth episode is a Minnesota dairy farmer and the founder of The Grater Good is Miss Christine Leonard. welcome to the dairy show
Christine: Hi Katie thanks for having me on
Katie: As we get started I’m gonna have you do a brief introduction of your self and cover your connection to dairy
Christine: Sure so I grew up in dairy. I’m the 6th generation on our farm we milk 45 registered Holsteins about 45 west of Minneapolis so growing up I showed and did dairy judging and dairy bowls with 4H kinda on the local and state level. I was a county dairy princess and a the princess k finalist and really pretty involved with dairy at the local level.
But actually when I went to college I had no intention really of returning home to the farm mostly because I just didn’t see how it was going to be possible to farm at the size and scale that I wanted to.
But as we all know the dairy community has a way of pulling you back in.
big plans for a small farm
The past two years have gone by quickly for the Leonard family as Tim and Amy work closely with their daughter, Christine, in managing their dairy farm.
“It’s really a joint venture at this time,” Amy said. “By working together, we can do chores faster so there’s more time for other projects around the farm and it’s easier to take time off.”
The Leonards milk 50 cows in a tiestall barn on their Carver County dairy farm near Waconia. They also crop farm 200 acres of land and raise all of their replacement animals.
In 2018, Tim and Amy were able to accommodate Christine’s return to the farm.
“I always wanted to come back, but I didn’t really know where there was a place for me,” Christine said. “It’s a lot different working for your parents than working with your parents. It took us time to figure out how everything fits together.”