MELROSE, Minn. — During a time when consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is raised, a pair of Minnesota brothers are dedicated to helping consumers along the way.

Adam Borgerding, a Padua, Minn., native, stumbled upon a newspaper advertisement for a meat market. Borgerding had been on the hunt for a way to stay close to his roots — his parents’ dairy-beef farm — and this meat market gave him a unique opportunity to do just that.

“Adam always says our goal is to put the trust back into the butcher, and that is exactly what we are trying to do here,” said Lee Borgerding, younger brother of Adam and acting manager of Brüders Butcher.

In February 2019, Melrose City Meat Market became Brüders Butcher, with Adam Borgerding as the sole owner. Borgerding settled on the name Brüders Butcher — which means 'brothers' in German — to not only pay tribute to his German heritage, but the city of Melrose’s German heritage as well.

Brüders Butcher is a family owned meat market that focuses on beef and pork products. The beef that is sold at their market comes directly from their family farm, located in Stearns County.

Keeping a dream alive

Marilyn Gaebel packages sausage at Bruders Butcher on June 16, 2020. Gaebel has provided the recipes for the sausage she has made since the days when she and her husband owned the business. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Marilyn Gaebel packages sausage at Bruders Butcher on June 16, 2020. Gaebel has provided the recipes for the sausage she has made since the days when she and her husband owned the business. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Before Adam Borgerding bought the business, Melrose City Meat Market had been owned by Marilyn Gaebel and her husband, George Kuhlmann. The pair bought the meat market in 2012, working together until Kuhlmann died in 2016.

Gaebel promised to run the market for as long as she could, protecting George’s dream.

“I made a vow to myself that I would keep this business going. This was his dream,” she said.

After putting the meat market up for sale, Gaebel received a few offers. But, none of them felt right. That was until the Borgerding brothers made their way to her market.

“These wonderful gentlemen, I am so glad I waited for them. They just felt right. They are truly awesome,” she said.

 Lee Borgerding and Adam Borgerding work at Bruder Butchers, with Marilyn Gaebel in the background. Photo taken June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Lee Borgerding and Adam Borgerding work at Bruder Butchers, with Marilyn Gaebel in the background. Photo taken June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Even though the meat market has changed ownership, Gaebel continues to work at Brüders Butcher alongside Adam and Lee. She brings her knowledge of the industry and the well-known recipes that are still used in Brüders Butcher today, something Borgerding was dedicated to keeping.

“Our blood and smoked sausage is definitely one of our best sellers, it was important to us to keep what people knew and enjoyed,” Adam said.

A family affair

Adam and Lee Borgerding standing outside Bruders Butcher on June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Adam and Lee Borgerding standing outside Bruders Butcher on June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Adam Borgerding graduated from North Dakota State University where he majored in ag engineering. He completed internships for Bobcat as well as John Deere. Although he enjoys being an ag engineer, he wanted something that brought him back to the farm — Brüders Butcher has allowed that.

The Borgerdings pride themselves on using high quality beef — beef that just so happens to come from the Borgerdings family farm.

Marvin and Ginny Borgerding take a ride on their farm on June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Marvin and Ginny Borgerding take a ride on their farm on June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Adam and Lee's parents, Marvin and Ginny Borgerding, own the family's dairy-beef farm. They raise British White cattle, which are then taken to a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected facility, where they are slaughtered. The meat is then taken to Brüders Butcher for processing

The family takes pride in giving the herd no growth hormones or vaccines. They believe that increases the overall quality of their products. They hope to venture toward organic in the future.

The younger of the Borgerding brothers runs the day-to-day operations of the market. As a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in ag business and ag systems management, Lee Borgerding said butchering presented quite the learning curve.

The Bruders Butcher product board includes one of their best-sellers, blood sausage. The recipe is that of the business's former owner, Marilyn Gaebel. Photo taken June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
The Bruders Butcher product board includes one of their best-sellers, blood sausage. The recipe is that of the business's former owner, Marilyn Gaebel. Photo taken June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
“We had a butcher set up to come in and show us how to cut an animal. That was unable to happen due to a snowstorm. So, we learned from YouTube, videos and books. It took me a few animals to figure out all the different pieces, but now I can do it from heart,” he said.

However, that learning curve certainly did not impact the success of their business. The brothers are now building their second location in Breckenridge, Minn., with hopes to have a location in the Fargo/Moorhead area as well.

Ben Borgerding, brother to Adam and Lee, also works in the market, making it a family affair. Their parents, Marvin and Ginny, are extremely supportive of their new business venture.

A mother attends to her newborn calf at the Borgerding Farm on June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
A mother attends to her newborn calf at the Borgerding Farm on June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Marvin and Ginny Borgerding bought their farm, located in Stearns County, in 1981. In 1988, they built their dairy barn.

“We built it during a drought year. People told us we were crazy,” Marvin Borgerding said.

While they did have around 60 dairy cows at one time, they have since cut down to 30. “I always tell Ginny that I sold my half,” he said.

After Marvin suffered a knee injury last winter, Ginny has been the primary milker. While she enjoys it, the family has decided it is time to transition to all beef cattle. In addition, the family hopes to have their own USDA-inspected facility where they can slaughter cattle right on their own farm. This would cut down on the cost and time for transportation as well as cutting out the middleman.

The Borgerding's raise a British White cattle herd. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
The Borgerding's raise a British White cattle herd. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
While British Whites are not common for the area, the Borgerdings have taken a liking to the breed. They believe the cattle are much more docile than other breeds and also thrive out on pasture. The family currently has around 32 in their herd, which are used for Brüders Butcher.

As Marvin and Ginny get older, the process of transitioning the farm to their children has begun. They could not be happier that their children have the desire to continue their legacy.

Adam Borgerding and Marilyn Gaebel work at Bruders Butcher. Gaebel and her husband used to own the business, and she held off on selling until the Borgerdings came along and felt like a good fit. Photo taken June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
Adam Borgerding and Marilyn Gaebel work at Bruders Butcher. Gaebel and her husband used to own the business, and she held off on selling until the Borgerdings came along and felt like a good fit. Photo taken June 16, 2020. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
“We have built this ourselves, so we are very proud that our children want to take it over and not just hand it over to anybody,” Ginny said.

In the future, the Borgerding brothers hope their meat markets’ demands will outgrow their own herd. They plan to hire families and small farms to raise good cattle to their high standards, ultimately, providing reassurance that consumers can put the trust back in the butcher.