Outlook Magazine - Fall 2021
Nothing cheddar than this
C hristine Leonard, owner of the Grater Good, had a cheese awakening while in an Honors College class at UW-Stout on the geography of food. In that class, the 2016 food science and technology 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 to tell the story of agriculture, big and little farms, impacting the world.” Initially, she didn’t want to attend UW-Stout because her brother, David, a 2012 engineering technology alumnus, went there, but when she toured the university, she “fell in love with the campus and the community” said Leonard, a Stout Scholar scholarship recipient. After working postgraduation at an organic farm and at a creamery, Leonard finally followed her dream and began farming full time with her parents in January 2018. She represents the sixth generation of the Leonard Family Farm, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. With the help of family, Leonard added a small “cheese shack” on the farm in 2020, creating artisan cheese platters for the Grater Good (www.thegratergoodmn.com). Local cheeses and meats in a variety of options are packaged on a cutting board. All items come from a five- state area with an emphasis on quality. “My favorite part is being able to tell the story of the cheese,” Leonard said. “With artisan cheeses you can break it down to the time of year, what the animals were fed, and which cheesemaker made it. Each board comes with a detailed information sheet and lists of pairings they should try. I want the eating to be an experience … something they can sit and bond over.” While at UW-Stout, Leonard participated in a wine and food pairings class. It taught her the subtle taste nuances of pairing cheeses with different foods. In addition to the boards, Leonard offers on-the-farm or virtual classes teaching participants about different cheeses. Xanthi Gerasimo, Honors College adviser, said Leonard “loves the land, loves her cows and feels a connection to producing food. I love how she has taken her food science background and used it to innovate new ways for her family farm to make money.” Leonard plans to add a space to offer indoor classes and by 2030 a creamery that would allow her to milk about 15 cows and produce artisan cheeses.
Food science alum starts own cheese platter company
Left, Christine Leonard works on one of her artisan cheese boards.
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