Innovating Farm Sustainability: Jer-Lindy Farms and Redhead Creamery
A dedication to sustainability and energy efficiency is second nature for Jer-Lindy Farms in Brooten, Minnesota. The 258-acre farm uses the most sustainable methods to cultivate corn and alfalfa and provide the best environment for its 200 dairy cows. And now the family has found a way to ensure the future of the family farm with its latest venture, the high-profile Redhead Creamery, which is attracting interest from people all over the country who are hungry for its artisan cheese and story of the next-generation farming legacy. For its innovation in sustainable farming, Jer-Lindy Farms has been recognized with a 2016 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability.
Jerry and Linda Jennissen have owned Jer-Lindy Farms since 1983, and can trace the farm’s ownership back to when it was originally homesteaded in 1875. When the Jennissens’ adult daughter, Alise Sjostrom, returned to the farm with her husband, Lucas, the two families joined forces to make her vision of starting a creamery a reality, and the Sjostroms were brought on as partners in the farm.
Ever since she was a teenager, Alise had dreams of opening a creamery on the farm. After attending the University of Minnesota, she and Lucas moved to Vermont and embarked upon a grand tour of the state’s creameries and cheese plants, learning more about the cheesemaking industry. They brought their knowledge back to Jer-Lindy Farms, and Redhead Creamery – named after Alise’s red hair – opened its doors on the farm site in 2013, offering farm and creamery tours to the public, as well as a tasting room and retail store where visitors can purchase freshly made cheese and baked goods.
The creamery’s offerings have been an immediate hit, both locally and globally. Its cheese is available at more than 80 stores across the Midwest, and the Lucky Linda Clothbound Aged Cheddar won sixth-place in its category at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest.
“The success of Redhead Creamery has attracted new interest from new audiences like foodies, cheese-lovers and enthusiasts of locally made goods to Jer-Lindy Farms and has helped ensure the family business will continue for years to come,” Linda said.
Their commitment to a strong environmental future is clear. “Our goal is to be sustainable, caring for our land and our cows while profitable, and we’ve done that by being as forward-thinking as possible,” said Jerry. “The focus on sustainable farming is very important to our family as it allows us to to meet the needs of our family now, and in future generations.”
The families have embraced numerous other approaches designed to make a measurable impact on the environment, their community and the farm’s future, including:
Using its cows’ manure instead of commercial fertilizer to fertilize its crops;
Utilizing a weekly monitoring service to scan for weeds and harmful pests, saving unnecessary herbicide and pesticide application;
Using a soil sampling method called “gridding,” which reduces the amount of lime applied to the alfalfa fields, only applying it in the areas where it is needed.
Installing high efficiency energy sources, reducing overall energy use by 20 percent;
Earning the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification; and
Feeding whey byproduct from the creamery back to the cows.
The Jennissens and Sjostroms hope to leave a long-sustaining legacy for Lucy and Henry, Alise and Lucas’ young children, and many generations to come.