Petran operates a small berry farm

Compeer Financial, a farm credit cooperative based in the Upper Midwest, has named Andy Petran as the recipient of the organization’s 2021 GroundBreaker of the Year Award. The award recognizes young, beginning and small operation farmers who are overcoming obstacles and making a difference in agriculture and their community.

Petran started his operation, Twin Cities Berry Co., in 2018, with a focus and passion for providing people access to healthy, locally-produced fruit. Petran primarily grows organic strawberries and raspberries, and has developed and implemented approaches to help maximize fruit quality and yield, and extend the production season.

“What impresses me about Andy is that he’s innovative,” said Sai Thao, Petran’s financial officer at Compeer. “He’s a pioneer, he’s bold and he’s not afraid to experiment with new ideas. He’s very determined to be the best strawberry farmer in the Midwest and is certainly a role model to other young and beginning farmers.”

Whether it’s testing out netting on his fields to keep pests out, tinkering with hydroponics to maximize growing space or creating a solar-powered harvesting machine from a go-kart – Petran thinks outside of the box to help grow his business.

He sells his fruits locally at farmers markets, and continues to explore value-adds to maximize his results – things like jam made from his berries or fruit shrub syrups for cocktail mixers.

“When people are looking to start out farming, they almost have to start small,” Petran said. “It’s not because small farms are getting more hip and trendy. It’s a financial imperative that most farmers, who don’t have money or an inheritance pipeline, have to start small. The fact that Compeer is there to assist, it’s just a lifesaver. And I know other farmers are benefiting from it too.”

Compeer said that Petran’s innovative approaches, passion for educating others and determined spirit exemplify what it means to be a GroundBreaker. Watch the video announcing Petran’s award at youtube.com/watch?v=F1_T0CUlZSE.

Nominations for Compeer Financial’s 2022 GroundBreaker of the Year Award will open in April. Learn more about the award and eligibility criteria at compeer.com/GroundBreakeroftheYear.

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