LAKEVILLE, Minn. — Compeer Financial, a Farm Credit cooperative based in the Upper Midwest, is pleased to announce Christine Leonard as the recipient of the organization’s 2023 GroundBreaker of the Year Award. The award recognizes young, beginning and small operation farmers who are overcoming obstacles and making a difference in agriculture and their community.
Leonard, who works alongside her parents Tim and Amy, is the sixth generation on their family’s dairy farm. The family milks 45 registered Holsteins, raises their own replacement animals and grows corn, alfalfa, soybeans and wheat on 200 acres.
In 2020, Leonard founded The Grater Good, a cheese and charcuterie business she started as part of her return to the family farm after working a few other off-farm jobs after college.
“I started by making cheeseboards for family and friends — and as charcuterie boards have become more popular, I decided to turn this passion into a business,” said Leonard. “I added a small licensed commercial kitchen right on the farm and I partner with other local producers for the cheeses, meats, honey and jams in my boards and in my cheese education classes.”
As she looks to the future, Leonard wants to add a space to hold cheese classes and meetings on the farm, and eventually add an on-farm creamery where she can make artisan cheeses on-site and bring consumers even closer to agriculture.
It’s Leonard’s drive, passion and commitment to the agriculture industry that exemplify why she’s a great fit for Compeer Financial’s GroundBreaker of the Year Award.
“Christine’s dedication makes her unique,” said Karen Johnson, team leader of insurance operations at Compeer Financial. “Her passion for the industry, her passion to educate people about agriculture and her passion to connect with people and get them excited about the dairy industry and cheese sets Christine apart.”
“It means a lot to me to be recognized as the GroundBreaker of the Year,” added Leonard. “As a woman in agriculture and as a small farmer, it’s important for me to be a role model for others. Having a small farm or being a woman in this industry shouldn’t hold us back. I’m hopeful to see a resurgence of small, regenerative farms like mine for the people out there who really just want to farm and work with animals. It’s pretty amazing to be considered a groundbreaker and someone who’s making waves.”
To learn more about Leonard’s story, watch Compeer Financial’s 2023 GroundBreaker of the Year video.
Nominations for Compeer Financial’s 2024 GroundBreaker of the Year Award will be accepted starting in early summer 2023. Learn more about the award and eligibility criteria at compeer.com/groundbreakeroftheyear.
About Compeer Financial
Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $29.7 billion organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the Upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America, while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.
Compeer Financial is the third largest cooperative of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions supporting agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Learn more about Compeer Financial.
— Compeer Financial