St. Louis County Farm Family of the Year

University of Minnesota Extension

Pat and Karen Brodeen at Farmfest by University of Minnesota Extension

Pat Brodeen’s parents bought a small farm on the south side of Cook, Minnesota in 1951 and twenty years later, Pat and his dad remodeled the barn and started milking Registered Holstein cows. In the early days, the milk from their 50 cows was sold to a local creamery for bottling and eventually they joined AMPI Cooperative. Being raised on a dairy farm in Hibbing, Karen was no stranger to hard work and dairy farming. In 1980, Pat and Karen were married and in 1991, they purchased the farm from Pat’s parents and continued milking Registered Holstein’s for another 20 years. In addition, they also raised around 30 beef cows to supplement their income and for their own use.



In 2010, the dairy herd was sold and a full time Angus beef operation was started. It has since grown to 100 cow/calf pairs in which they background the calves and make hay on 400 rented acres. Located just east of Highway 53, the home farm has 200 acres and is divided into pastures that allow for rotational grazing.

Each fall, the Brodeen’s host a “Fall Beef Cattle Round-up”. The first year they started out by opening up their barn and inviting folks from the community to come and hear an educational speaker as well as experts from the beef industry who provided knowledge on happenings in the industry, as well as teachings on how to implement new technologies and ideas into local operations. They even were able to provide a meal to all of the participants that first year by going out and collecting sponsors for the event. The event has since taken off, and is now being replicated statewide by the University Beef team. Due to the growth in attendance, the Brodeen’s have gathered sponsorships for the meeting and meal but they still host the round up in their barn. Following the meal and presentations, the floor is open to questions for the panel from the attendees. The “Fall Beef Cattle Round-up” continues to thrive due to Pat and Karen’s commendable efforts, and the value this event has to local producers.

Karen often enjoys getting out on Leander Road for a brisk walk, and about five years ago during the spring thaw, she noticed there was garbage and debris in the ditches along the road. Once again, the Brodeen’s were called to action by rallying the residents of Leander Road to join them in a spring clean-up. Following the work, the participants were invited back to the farm for a potluck. This spring, over 25 people came out and enjoyed a beautiful sunny spring day and the reconnection to their neighbors after a long cold winter.

Pat and Karen are both involved in the day to day operation of the farm and share the decision making. Pat’s brother, Curt helps out during the calving season, but beyond that Pat and Karen shoulder all of the labor and responsibility.

Pat has served on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Holstein Association as well as the local Northeast Minnesota Holstein Association, the Minnesota Beef Council and the St. Louis County Livestock Association.



Karen has served on the board of the Northeast Minnesota Holstein Association, the county American Dairy Association, and 10 years ago joined Arbonne, a health and wellness home-based company and has since worked her way up to a Director position. Karen enjoys the combination of farming and Arbonne as both are flexible and compliment their lifestyle.

The Farm Family of the Year Recognition Program has existed for over two decades and honors farm families throughout Minnesota. The families were officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, August 8, 2019 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minnesota. For more information on the 2019 University of Minnesota Farm Families of the Year or the Farmfest event, visit

The St. Louis County Extension Committee locally recognized Pat and Karen Brodeen at the St. Louis County Fair in Chisholm on Saturday, August 3, 2019.

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