Monday, January 14, 2013

A Tribute to a Dutch Dairywoman

Indiana’s dairy industry lost one of its own this week, Leontien Van de Laar Oostdijck.  Anyone who ever met Leontien knows what a huge loss this is for us all.

Leontien was part of waive of Dutch immigrant farmers who sold their farms in Europe to move to Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana in latter part of the 20th century.  After investing their life savings and relocating to the Midwest, farmers like Leontien worked hard to make ends meet in their new country. Coming from a family of Dutch immigrants, I loved watching the “American dream” unfold before my very eyes.

Farming was not always easy for Leontien.  The dairy industry crashed in 2009 forcing many Dutch immigrants to file for bankruptcy protection, or worse, turn over their farms to lenders or receivers and walk away.  Some returned to The Netherlands with nothing.  Leontien battled through these difficulties with a smile.  Her farm survived and her love of the farm seemed to only increase with the daily challenges.

Every time you met Leontien you were impressed.  She was passionate about dairy farming.  Her tours of Four Leaf Clover Dairy were filled with stories, laughter and enthusiasm unmatched by any farmer I've met before or since.  You knew that she loved what she did.

I was not the only one who noticed.  Her blog was fully of admirers.  Her tweets would make you smile.  Progressive Dairyman put her on the frontpage.  And last year, she was honored as Indiana’s Dairy Producer of the Year.  She was a remarkable woman.

Sadly, last week Leontien succumbed to cancer at the age of 33.  A few weeks earlier, she wrote on her blog these words:  
How wonderful is that?!?
Yes, how wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. I admire her spirit and her business objective of nitty gritty hard work to compete and stay afloat in a male dominated agriculture scene. She is also advocating organic farming such as free range livestock.


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