WHEN YOU GROW UP on a dairy farm like I did, you think pigs stink. I bet those who grow up on a swine farm think cows stink.
And I imagine city dwellers think all farms stink.
The reality is that animals smell and so does their waste.
While traveling through my home area of southwestern Minnesota several months ago (note the snow), I didn’t smell anything, but I saw a facility along U.S. Highway 14 east of Sleepy Eye that has long piqued my curiosity. That would be the cylinder structures at Christensen Farms which rise high above the prairie landscape, breaking the expanse of sky and land that define this part of our state.
Such feed mills and elevators are common in this strong agricultural region. But the Christensen operation is decidedly larger than most. However, that’s not what got my attention. Rather, I was fascinated by the business logo.
I admire the creativity of incorporating a pig’s head into the company name. I’m no graphic designer, but visually I find the logo appealing and memorable. There’s no doubt when I see the header that this is a swine-related operation. That’s some savvy branding and marketing.
I suppose pig producers and those who live in southwestern Minnesota know all about Christensen Farms. But up until two years ago, when I worked with a magazine editor who once was employed by Christensen, I had never heard of the business. Sure, I’d driven by it many times but never really gave it a second thought until after I connected with that editor.
You might be surprised to learn, as I was, that Christensen Farms is the largest family-owned swine producer in the world with operations in five Upper Midwest states and Colorado, according to the company website. They raise three million pigs annually, enough to feed 12 million people.
Who would have thought such a large-scale business exists in the middle of the Minnesota prairie? All of this I learned because of that artsy logo painted onto the sides of Christensen’s Sleepy Eye Feed Mill.
© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling