By Dave Minar
Born and raised on Cedar Summit Farm
My Grandfather purchased what is now Cedar Summit Farm in 1926. When my parents married in 1938, they moved onto the farm. I was born and raised there.
Florence and I met at the University of Minnesota where we were both students. I graduated in 1963 with a BS in Ag. Econ. & Dairy Science, and in 1964 we were married. I farmed with my father after service in the US Army and in 1966 accepted a position with Minn. Valley Breeders as an A. I. technician. Our family grew fast-Lisa was born in 1965, Chris in 1966 and Mike in 1967.
Exploring organic alternative farming
In 1969, Florence and I made the decision to return to the farm full time. I was the only son and wanted to continue what my Grandfather had started. We built a new sixty-cow tie stall barn in 1971. Over the years we developed a registered Holstein herd that had received state and national recognition. We showed our animals at many shows and fairs. In 1974, we discontinued the use of pesticides, and started exploring alternative ways to combat pests. We knew it could be done, because it had been done in the past.
Creating permanent pastures, stopping erosion
In 1977 we started our second family when Laura was born. Dan was to follow in 1980. In this time period more changes were made in our family. My father, who was my main source of help, died in 1979. Chris and Mike, who were 13 and 12, were now my main source of labor, with some hired help to allow them time for sports and 4-H. In the mid-80’s the older children graduated from high school and went to college. In 1986, our son Dan was starting school and Florence found a full-time job in town.
By the late 1980s, we were intrigued with the idea of improving animal health by allowing the cows to harvest their own feed for seven months of the year. The idea, which we found exciting, was that all of our land, some of which adjoins Sand Creek, would be in permanent pasture grasses and thus would stop erosion. This would also improve the water and mineral cycles. We could see how it would improve our quality of life with less feed to harvest. We sold our milking herd and bred heifers in 1993, and started grazing with our young stock. In 1994, we built a new milking parlor and started milking again.
A family decision
In 1994 we started a direct marketing retail meat business with pasture-raised chicken. The chickens we had been buying in the grocery store were becoming less and less appealing. We knew many others felt the same way. We hired a marketing consultant to help us with a brochure and we raised 900 chickens. Our chickens sold out and we were on our way. This venture evolved into a significant sideline and we decided to look more closely at direct marketing. Steers were a natural as we had the bull calves – we just had to keep them around long enough to turn them into beef.
While researching about the nutritional value of grass-fed beef, we realized that our 100% grass-fed milk also was an exceptional product. After many family meetings the decision was made to process our own milk, which is how we came to build a creamery on our farm.
We no longer raise chickens but we still raise hogs (they love the waste milk from the creamery) and steers.
It is a good feeling to be able to supply our community with high-quality fresh food.
We hope you enjoy our 100% grass-fed dairy products as much as we like making them.