Matt and Sarah Winnie

School for Beginning Dairy Farmers

When Matt Winnie arrived on the CALS campus some 10 years ago for his short course, he was hoping to broaden and deepen his skills in dairy farming, not necessarily find a wife. He ended up doing both. On the second day he fell into conversation with Sarah Knorn, who’d grown up on Green Valley Farm, which had been founded by her great-grandparents near Rib Lake. Winnie admits it was love at first sight: “Right away I felt a connection with her. We seemed to hit it off, and I guess she kept me ever since.” Romance seems to be an added benefit for other short course participants as well—the Winnies can name two more couples who met that way.

The course, Winnie said, helped him build a business plan for a dairy operation, which he had long wanted to establish. As for Sarah Winnie, since childhood she’d wanted a farm of her own. In 2008 the couple purchased Green Valley from Sarah’s parents, becoming the fourth-generation owners. Modernization efforts since then include adding another silo, putting comfort tie stalls in the barn and building a milking parlor. They’ve gone from 64 to 110 cows and doubled the number of acres farmed. And they’re growing their family as well. Matt and Sarah have two boys and two girls—and another baby is due this winter.