2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6, Page #07[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
She Found A New Way To Sell Cheese
The Young America, Minn., entrepreneur emphasizes locally-made artisan cheeses and perfect pairings.
“We eat with our eyes first, but when you dig in, certain foods go together - garlic cheddar with dill pickles; jam with brie or certain cheddars,” she says, explaining she puts them next to each other on her artistic cheese trays.
After working for a cheese maker, the food science and technology graduate moved back to her family’s farm, knowing she needed a niche market to make a living.
“My goal for this cheese business is that I can work with cows the rest of my life,” she says. She and her parents milk 50 cows. By 2030 Leonard plans to trim the herd to 15 cows and make cheese.
In her first phase, she and family members converted a former radio announcer booth from the Minnesota State Fair into a 150-sq. ft. “cheese shack” that meets state requirements for selling food. She drove to creameries, meat markets, and other local producers to find the best local products to sell. Leonard keeps about 15 hard cheeses on hand and works with a couple of distributors for other items.
In 2020, she started with wooden boards that her brother made for her, but as the business grew, she switched to compostable trays made of recycled palm leaves.
“The popularity of sizes has changed since 2020 from heart-shaped trays for two people to the 5-person size last year. This year it’s more like 10 or 15-person trays,” she says. “People also like the individual servings, the charcuterie cups with skewers, or the mini-snack boxes.”
Located about 45 minutes from Minneapolis, she has a few drop-off sites for customers, especially around the holidays.
“I also offer cheese classes and talk about how they pair with wine and beer. I work with local wineries and breweries and have done private in-home classes, book clubs, bachelorette parties, and I went to an office in Minneapolis,” Leonard says.
For customers farther away, she offers virtual classes to explain the pairings and food on trays that she ships out earlier.
“Cheese is the perfect vessel to connect farmers with consumers. With my knowledge of agriculture, I can tell the farmers’ stories,” she says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Christine Leonard, The Grater Good, 13315 106th St., Young America, Minn. 55397 (ph 952-334-3225; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.thegratergoodmn.com).
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