Genoa, Wisconsin

The Levendoski Family

Hello and welcome to Harmony Hills.  My name is Jon Levendoski and I am the primary operator of our dairy farm.  Since I was very young I have known that I wanted to be a dairy farmer like my father and my grandfather.  I have always been happiest when I have been outside working with our cows.

This farm has been in our family for five generations.  My great-great-grandfather, August Levendoski, purchased the farm from a homesteader in 1876.  Since then it has passed from father-to-son for five generations.  My three kids Henry (8), Oscar (6) and Reagan (3) represent the sixth generation of our family to live here.

My path to becoming a farmer wasn’t as straightforward as others.  When I was in high school I informed my father that I wanted to farm.  He understood and was supportive but suggested that I go to college and get a degree first.  That way, if I was ever injured farming and was unable to continue farming, I would stand a better chance of finding a job to support myself.  It was advice that his dad gave him as well.  I followed his advice and attended his alma mater, UW-River Falls earning a bachelor’s degree in Dairy Science in 2004.

After graduation, I wasn’t sure I was ready to come home and farm just yet.  I had met my wife and we were enjoying life in River Falls.  I knew I needed a new career path and I realized that I had spent a large portion of my free time tutoring and working with various student groups.  Being a teacher seemed like a good fit.  I entered a master’s program (also at UW-River Falls) in the fall of 2005 and earned a master’s degree in education in the winter of 2007.  I taught in the Twin Cities area for a few years before I convinced my wife to move back to our farm.  At that point I found a teaching job in the area and spent seven years teaching full time and farming as much as possible which was exhausting.  I gave up teaching in 2017 and started farming full time.  I haven’t regretted it.

Our farm philosophy has always been focused on sustainability.  We rotationally graze our cows.  Our herd of 40 can be supported with the land that we own.  We don’t use chemical fertilizers.  The cows are crossbred with a variety of European breeds to try and make them more efficient grazers.

I love this life.  Our farm is a true family operation.  While I took over much of the work and most of the decision making, my parents are still heavily involved.  My father still milks with me twice a day and does a lot of the tractor work.  My mother unloads all of the hay in the summer and helps clean the barn in the winter.  My kids are always around playing and helping where they can.

My father has served on several cooperative boards in his lifetime.  For 15 years he was a member of the Westby Creamery Board of Directors, with eight of those years serving as President.  Once I was comfortable running the farm, I felt a desire to give back to the community as well.  Since our farm has shipped milk to the Westby Cooperative Creamery since 1969, running for that Board of Directors seemed like a natural fit.  It is the only dairy cooperative that I would consider shipping my milk to.  I love the fact that it is made up of farms that are similar to mine in size and philosophy.  I love that the Board is made up of farmers who milk cows in the morning before meetings and in the evening after meetings are over.  It is one of the few institutions left that is directly run by the people who are impacted by it.  That’s a powerful and rare thing.

I thank my parents, my wife Jackie, and our children for all of their support. This is truly a family operation and none of it would be possible without all of them.  As a family, we believe in being a part of our greater community and giving back whenever and however we can. And nothing has mattered more to us than the strength and future of family dairy farms. That’s why ours has lasted for more than 140 years. When you take home country goodness from the family dairy farms of Westby Cooperative Creamery, you take home country goodness from our family – the Levendoski Family – and for that we say thank you!

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