Cheese

Spotlight on Cabot Creamery

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Cabot Creamery this week to shed a little light on this 100-year-old cooperative creamery, established at a time when cows outnumbered people in Vermont. Cabot’s full line of dairy products is 20% for member-owners from January 21st – 27th! Read on to learn all about their humble beginnings, the local farmers that are part of this cooperative, and how the Cabot name became synonymous with dairy in Vermont:

Print

The Cabot Creamery, headquartered in Waitsfield, VT, is a cooperative made up of more than 800 dairy farm families located throughout New York and New England. They also manage four plants in three states, employing over 1,000 people, who make “The World’s Best” cheese and dairy products.

The Cabot story reaches back to the beginning of the 20th century. In those days, the cost of farming was low and most farmers produced way more milk than they could market. So, in 1919, farmers from the Cabot area figured that if they joined forces, they could turn their excess milk into butter and market it throughout New England. Ninety-four farmers jumped on board, purchased the village creamery (built in 1983), and began producing butter.

Lucas Dairy Farm – Orwell, VT

Over the next two decades, as the nation’s population flocked to urban areas, Cabot’s farmer-owners thrived by shipping their milk and butter south. While the national economy shifted away from agriculture, the Vermont economy was still largely based on dairy farming. In fact, in 1930, cows outnumbered people! It was at this time that the company hired its first cheesemaker and cheddar cheese entered the product line for the first time. By 1960, Cabot’s membership reached 600 farm families at a time when the total number of operating farms around the nation was in sharp decline.

Steady growth continued and 1992 was a pivotal year in Cabot’s history as their farmer-owners merged with the 1,800 farm families of Agri-mark, a southern New England co-op dating back to 1918. 

Four Hills Farm – Bristol, VT

Today, Cabot’s future looks bright. Their company blends state-of-the-art facilities and a savvy entrepreneurial spirit with the timeless values and personal commitment to quality that comes from being 100% owned by their farm families. In the Middlebury facility, they installed a  huge new piece of machinery that allows them to process 4,000 more pounds of cheese curd per hour than the 8,000 pounds the previous machine handled. This 22-ton piece of equipment known as the CheeseMaster will increase the production of the 26 truck-sized vats — each holding enough milk to make 6,000 pounds of cheese — that get filled daily.

The Middlebury facility runs 24 hours a day/seven days a week and serves to make and age Cabot’s famous Vermont Cheddar. The plant also processes whey liquids, which are leftover from the cheesemaking process, to produce whey proteins and permeate, which is sold around the world. Additionally, the facility serves as a warehouse for cheese and whey products, with the capacity to store up to 2 million pounds of cheese. On a daily basis, 114 Vermont and New York dairy farmers supply the milk for the Middlebury plant, although that number increases on weekends and holidays when other plants are closed. Addison County is one of the largest membership areas in the farmers’ coop, helping to supply the milk that comes to the plant every day.

Cher-Mi Farm – North Orwell, VT

To learn more about the eight farms in Addison County that are part of the Cabot Cooperative, click on the links below:

 

 

Spotlight on Champlain Valley Creamery

We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on a local organic creamery that produces delicious award-winning cheeses just a few short miles from the Co-op. Champlain Valley Creamery uses traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheese entirely by hand in a net-zero solar-powered facility in Middlebury. Their fantastic lineup of cheeses are all 20% off for Member-owners from December 3rd – 9th! Read on to learn more about this fabulous local creamery and the people who make it shine:

 

 

Champlain Valley Creamery was first established in 2003 by founder and owner Carleton Yoder. With a graduate degree in food science and a background in wine and hard cider making, Yoder was eager to run his own food business. With Vermont’s abundance of amazing local milk, small-scale cheesemaking just made sense. Yoder began his adventures in cheesemaking in a facility in Vergennes where he focused on two products: Organic Champlain Triple and Old Fashioned Organic Cream Cheese. Both have been awarded well-deserved honors from the prestigious American Cheese Society.

Carleton Yoder

Over the years, the creamery has continued to grow and expand its offerings, eventually moving into a net-zero solar-powered facility on Middlebury’s Exchange Street in 2012. Yoder and his small crew now produce an expanded lineup of cheeses including Queso Fresco (available in original, house-smoked, and pepper varieties),  Maple Cream Cheese, a pyramid-shaped triple cream with a layer of ash known as Pyramid Scheme, and, most recently, they began importing Italian truffles to produce the Champlain Truffle Triple.

 

The Creamery also made a switch last year to using 100% grass-fed organic milk from the Severy Farm in Cornwall. The milk only travels a few short miles from the farm to the creamery, where the cheesemaking begins within hours of arrival. The use of grass-fed milk results in a richer, creamier cheese that displays subtle seasonal changes reflective of the changing diet of the cows as the seasons progress. It’s truly the terroir of Addison County in each decadent bite of cheese.

salting a fresh batch of Queso Fresco

Yoder is supported by a small crew that is just as dedicated to the craft as he is. They use traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheeses entirely by hand.  A recent visit to their facility found the crew in constant motion, measuring, stirring, monitoring temperatures, and generally putting every bit of the day’s fresh batch of milk to good use. The bulk of the cream and whole milk is used to produce the Organic Champlain Triple, Champlain Truffle Triple, and the two varieties of cream cheese. The part-skim milk is then transformed into each of the three varieties of Queso Fresco, and the whey is drained off to create hand-dipped, basket-strained ricotta that is only available to a few select restaurants in the area. The only remaining by-product is a small amount of whey, which is sent to feed the happy pigs at Hinesburg’s Full Moon Farm, resulting in an operation that is hyper-local with very minimal waste. 

Amanda Warner & Carleton Yoder, with Carleton’s daughter,  Lila Cook Yoder, who was helping out on a snow day

According to Yoder, “cheesemaking is hard work but we strive to let the milk, cream, culture, salt, and mold shine through with their amazing flavors.” It’s this minimalist approach and the desire to honor the high-quality local ingredients that make Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheeses shine.

Picture hanging above Yoder’s desk made by his son, Nate

 

Spotlight on Champlain Valley Creamery

We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on a local organic creamery that produces delicious award-winning cheeses just a few short miles from the Co-op. Champlain Valley Creamery uses traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheese entirely by hand in a net-zero solar-powered facility in Middlebury. Their fantastic lineup of cheeses are all 20% off for Member-owners from December 3rd – 9th! Read on to learn more about this fabulous local creamery and the people who make it shine:

 

 

Champlain Valley Creamery was first established in 2003 by founder and owner Carleton Yoder. With a graduate degree in food science and a background in wine and hard cider making, Yoder was eager to run his own food business. With Vermont’s abundance of amazing local milk, small-scale cheesemaking just made sense. Yoder began his adventures in cheesemaking in a facility in Vergennes where he focused on two products: Organic Champlain Triple and Old Fashioned Organic Cream Cheese. Both have been awarded well-deserved honors from the prestigious American Cheese Society.

Carleton Yoder

Over the years, the creamery has continued to grow and expand its offerings, eventually moving into a net-zero solar-powered facility on Middlebury’s Exchange Street in 2012. Yoder and his small crew now produce an expanded lineup of cheeses including Queso Fresco (available in original, house-smoked, and pepper varieties),  Maple Cream Cheese, a pyramid-shaped triple cream with a layer of ash known as Pyramid Scheme, and, most recently, they began importing Italian truffles to produce the Champlain Truffle Triple.

 

The Creamery also made a switch last year to using 100% grass-fed organic milk from the Severy Farm in Cornwall. The milk only travels a few short miles from the farm to the creamery, where the cheesemaking begins within hours of arrival. The use of grass-fed milk results in a richer, creamier cheese that displays subtle seasonal changes reflective of the changing diet of the cows as the seasons progress. It’s truly the terroir of Addison County in each decadent bite of cheese.

salting a fresh batch of Queso Fresco

Yoder is supported by a small crew that is just as dedicated to the craft as he is. They use traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheeses entirely by hand.  A recent visit to their facility found the crew in constant motion, measuring, stirring, monitoring temperatures, and generally putting every bit of the day’s fresh batch of milk to good use. The bulk of the cream and whole milk is used to produce the Organic Champlain Triple, Champlain Truffle Triple, and the two varieties of cream cheese. The part-skim milk is then transformed into each of the three varieties of Queso Fresco, and the whey is drained off to create hand-dipped, basket-strained ricotta that is only available to a few select restaurants in the area. The only remaining by-product is a small amount of whey, which is sent to feed the happy pigs at Hinesburg’s Full Moon Farm, resulting in an operation that is hyper-local with very minimal waste. 

Amanda Warner & Carleton Yoder, with Carleton’s daughter,  Lila Cook Yoder, who was helping out on a snow day

According to Yoder, “cheesemaking is hard work but we strive to let the milk, cream, culture, salt, and mold shine through with their amazing flavors.” It’s this minimalist approach and the desire to honor the high-quality local ingredients that make Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheeses shine.

Picture hanging above Yoder’s desk made by his son, Nate

 

Spotlight on Grafton Village Cheese

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on Grafton Village Cheese. All of their local, award-winning cheeses are 20% off for member-owners from February 6th – 12th, so it’s a perfect time to stock up on your favorites. Read on to learn more about this unique mission-driven creamery with a rich local history:

 

History

The Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company was originally founded in 1892 by dairy farmers who gathered together in a cooperative to make their surplus raw milk into cheese. In the days before refrigeration, there were many such cooperatives in the rural agricultural communities of Vermont and an abundance of fresh, creamy milk was turned into a food that could be stored for a longer period of time. A devastating fire destroyed the original factory in 1912, pressing a decades-long pause on the cheesemaking operation. Thankfully, in the mid-1960s the nonprofit Windham Foundation restored the company in an effort to breathe new life into Grafton’s agricultural economy. Their traditions have endured over the years and they remain committed to making their cheese by hand using premium raw milk from small, local family farms.

Cheese on a Mission

Grafton Village Cheese remains a mission-driven Windham Foundation-owned enterprise, supporting Vermont’s rural communities through grants, programs, and social enterprises. When you purchase Grafton Village Cheese, you’re not only supporting the local family farms that produce the milk and the 60 plus employees at Grafton cheese, but you’re also supporting educational initiatives like the Kindle Farm School, dedicated to serving students with a variety of emotional, behavioral, neurological and learning needs; you’re supporting grants that fuel farm to school efforts by Food Connects; and you’re supporting the preservation of a historic homestead owned by Alec Turner, who was an escaped slave who settled in Grafton in 1872, as part of Vermont’s African Ameican Heritage Trail. Now that’s cheese on a mission!

Visit

In addition to their production facility in Grafton, the Foundation operates a manufacturing plant and cheese store in Brattleboro, Vermont, where visitors can watch the cheddar being made and sample a wide variety of Vermont cheeses. If you’re traveling through the Brattleboro area, this is a must-see! 

 

 

Spotlight on Cabot Creamery

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Cabot Creamery this week to shed a little light on this 100-year-old cooperative creamery, established at a time when cows outnumbered people in Vermont. Cabot’s full line of dairy products are 20% for member-owners from January 16th – 22nd! Read on to learn all about their humble beginnings, the local farmers that are part of this cooperative, and how the Cabot name became synonymous with dairy in Vermont:

Print

The Cabot Creamery, headquartered in Waitsfield, VT, is a cooperative made up of more than 800 dairy farm families located throughout New York and New England. They also manage four plants in three states, employing over 1,000 people, who make “The World’s Best” cheese and dairy products.

The Cabot story reaches back to the beginning of the 20th century. In those days, the cost of farming was low and most farmers produced way more milk than they could market. So, in 1919, farmers from the Cabot area figured that if they joined forces, they could turn their excess milk into butter and market it throughout New England. Ninety-four farmers jumped on board, purchased the village creamery (built in 1983), and began producing butter.

Lucas Dairy Farm – Orwell, VT

Over the next two decades, as the nation’s population flocked to urban areas, Cabot’s farmer-owners thrived by shipping their milk and butter south. While the national economy shifted away from agriculture, the Vermont economy was still largely based on dairy farming. In fact, in 1930, cows outnumbered people! It was at this time that the company hired its first cheesemaker and cheddar cheese entered the product line for the first time. By 1960, Cabot’s membership reached 600 farm families at a time when the total number of operating farms around the nation was in sharp decline.

Steady growth continued and 1992 was a pivotal year in Cabot’s history as their farmer-owners merged with the 1,800 farm families of Agri-mark, a southern New England co-op dating back to 1918. 

Four Hills Farm – Bristol, VT

Today, Cabot’s future looks bright. Their company blends state-of-the-art facilities and a savvy entrepreneurial spirit with the timeless values and personal commitment to quality that comes from being 100% owned by their farm families. In the Middlebury facility, they installed a  huge new piece of machinery that allows them to process 4,000 more pounds of cheese curd per hour than the 8,000 pounds the previous machine handled. This 22-ton piece of equipment known as the CheeseMaster will increase the production of the 26 truck-sized vats — each holding enough milk to make 6,000 pounds of cheese — that get filled daily.

The Middlebury facility runs 24 hours a day/seven days a week and serves to make and age Cabot’s famous Vermont Cheddar. The plant also processes whey liquids, which are leftover from the cheesemaking process, to produce whey proteins and permeate, which is sold around the world. Additionally, the facility serves as a warehouse for cheese and whey products, with the capacity to store up to 2 million pounds of cheese. On a daily basis, 114 Vermont and New York dairy farmers supply the milk for the Middlebury plant, although that number increases on weekends and holidays when other plants are closed. Addison County is one of the largest membership areas in the farmers’ coop, helping to supply the milk that comes to the plant every day.

Cher-Mi Farm – North Orwell, VT

To learn more about the eight farms in Addison County that are part of the Cabot Cooperative, click on the links below:

 

 

Spotlight on Champlain Valley Creamery

We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on a local organic creamery that produces delicious award-winning cheeses just a few short miles from the Co-op. Champlain Valley Creamery uses traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheese entirely by hand in a net-zero solar-powered facility in Middlebury. Their fantastic lineup of cheeses are all 20% off for Member-owners from December 12th – 18th — just in time for your holiday parties! Read on to learn more about this fabulous local creamery and the people who make it shine:

 

 

Champlain Valley Creamery was first established in 2003 by founder and owner Carleton Yoder. With a graduate degree in food science and a background in wine and hard cider making, Yoder was eager to run his own food business. With Vermont’s abundance of amazing local milk, small-scale cheesemaking just made sense. Yoder began his adventures in cheesemaking in a facility in Vergennes where he focused on two products: Organic Champlain Triple and Old Fashioned Organic Cream Cheese. Both have been awarded well-deserved honors from the prestigious American Cheese Society.

Carleton Yoder

Over the years, the creamery has continued to grow and expand its offerings, eventually moving into a net-zero solar-powered facility on Middlebury’s Exchange Street in 2012. Yoder and his small crew now produce an expanded lineup of cheeses including Queso Fresco (available in original, house-smoked, and pepper varieties),  Maple Cream Cheese, a pyramid-shaped triple cream with a layer of ash known as Pyramid Scheme, and, most recently, they began importing Italian truffles to produce the Champlain Truffle Triple.

 

The Creamery also made a recent switch to using 100% grass-fed organic milk from the Severy Farm in Cornwall. The milk only travels a few short miles from the farm to the creamery, where the cheesemaking begins within hours of arrival. The use of grass-fed milk results in a richer, creamier cheese that displays subtle seasonal changes reflective of the changing diet of the cows as the seasons progress. It’s truly the terroir of Addison County in each decadent bite of cheese.

salting a fresh batch of Queso Fresco

Yoder is supported by a small crew that is just as dedicated to the craft as he is. They use traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheeses entirely by hand.  A recent visit to their facility found the crew in constant motion, measuring, stirring, monitoring temperatures, and generally putting every bit of the day’s fresh batch of milk to good use. The bulk of the cream and whole milk are used to produce the Organic Champlain Triple, Champlain Truffle Triple, and the two varieties of cream cheese. The part-skim milk is then transformed into each of the three varieties of Queso Fresco, and the whey is drained off to create hand-dipped, basket-strained ricotta that is only available to a few select restaurants in the area. The only remaining by-product is a small amount of whey, which is sent to feed the happy pigs at Hinesburg’s Full Moon Farm, resulting in an operation that his hyper-local with very minimal waste. 

Amanda Warren & Carleton Yoder, with Carleton’s daughter,  Lila Cook Yoder, who was helping out on a snow day

According to Yoder, “cheesemaking is hard work but we strive to let the milk, cream, culture, salt, and mold shine through with their amazing flavors.” It’s this minimalist approach and the desire to honor the high-quality local ingredients that make Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheeses shine.

Picture hanging above Yoder’s desk made by his son, Nate

 

Spotlight on Vermont Creamery

Feeding a crowd this Thanksgiving? Then you’ll be excited to hear that we’re featuring Vermont Creamery in our Member Deals Spotlight this week! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their lineup of award-winning products from November 21st – 27th. We’re incredibly lucky to live in a state with the highest number of artisanal cheesemakers per capita, and Vermont Creamery ranks high among them. Their cheeses, crème fraîche, mascarpone, and cultured butter have garnered awards locally, nationally, and globally, creating quite a reputation for this local creamery with such humble roots.  In their 35th year of business, Vermont Creamery supports a network of more than 17 family farms, one of which is in Addison County (Tups Crossing Farm). B Corp Certified in 2014, Vermont Creamery has been ranked one of “The Best Places to Work in Vermont,” by Vermont Business Magazine. Read on to learn more about how the creamery began, their model for being a sustainable mission-driven business, and what keeps them inspired to produce their world-renowned products:

 

 

Their Story:

Allison learned how to make cheese during an internship on a farm in Brittany, France. Bob was working for the Vermont Department of Agriculture and charged with organizing a dinner featuring all Vermont-made products. When a French chef requested fresh goat cheese, Bob scrambled to find a local producer. He asked Allison, who was working in a dairy lab and milking goats in Brookfield, to make the cheese. The dinner was a success and the cheese was a hit; Vermont Creamery was born that night.

In the 34 years since the improbable business partners made their first goat cheese, a lot has changed. But the more things change at Vermont Creamery, the more they stay the same.

They’re still here in Vermont, making consciously-crafted, delicious dairy that reflects who they are and what they care about; they’ve taken the time to perfect every detail of what they make. Their cheeses and butter have won hundreds of national and international awards, their team remains their most valuable resource, and they still put taste above all. You’ll never eat anything they don’t believe in.

Co-founders Bob Reese and Allison Hooper

 

Their Mission:

Taste Above All

We believe that delicious products made with high-quality ingredients bring people together.

Consciously Crafted

You’ll never eat anything we don’t believe in. 

Bettermakers

We take the time to do things right: caring for our farmers, customers, community and environment. 

B Corporation Certified

Vermont Creamery became a certified B Corp in 2014. B Corps are a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. This designation reflects the values upon which the company was founded and their operating philosophies today. The B Corp Impact Assessment provides a roadmap to continually improve their business practices while also applying rigor to and accountability for their mission. Check out their B Impact Score here.

 

Keeping it Local

One of the 17 farms that make up Vermont Creamery’s network is right here in Addison County! Tup’s Crossing Farm is a family-owned and operated goat dairy in Orwell, Vermont. The Menguc family is proud to provide fresh goats milk for Vermont Creamery and they’re regulars here at the Co-op! 

Tup’s Crossing Farm in Orwell, VT

Looking for great recipes? Click HERE!

 

Vermont Cheeses Set Record!

We all know that Vermont Cheeses are the best, but it sure is exciting to see that the rest of the country agrees!  At the prestigious American Cheese Society’s 36th Annual Awards competition (ACS) in Richmond, Virginia, Vermont producers, big and small, collectively took home 44 ribbons, marking Vermont’s best showing to date. Additionally, five Vermont cheeses were finalists for the Best of Show!

There were more 2000 entries at the 2019 ACS with 25 Vermont companies submitting cheeses to be judged. This annual competition is supported by the Vermont Cheese Council which provides technical assistance and marketing support for Vermont’s cheesemakers.

“These awards reinforce Vermont’s commitment to quality, which starts with the farmer, on the farm, and is carried right through until the cheese is served, “said Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “Many thanks to the cheesemakers and the Vermont Cheese Council for their hard work helping Vermont’s economy grow by continuing to reinforce and grow the quality of Vermont products.”

Winning Cheeses from Vermont include:

  •  Barn First Creamery, Westfield: Malloy, 1st Place
  • Boston Post Dairy, Enosburg Falls: Eleven Brothers, 2nd Place; Gisele, 3rd Place
  • Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot: Cabot Founders Private Stock, 1st Place; Cabot Centennial, 1st Place; Cabot Garlic & Herb (New York) 1st Place; Old School Cheddar, 2nd Place; McCadam Brick Muenster (New York) 2nd Place; Cabot Salted Butter, (Massachusetts) 3rd Place
  • Cate Hill Orchard, Craftsbury Commons: Vermanchego, 2nd Place
  • Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet: Rupert Reserve, 2nd Place; Goatlet, 1st Place with Crown Finish Caves
  • Fairy Tale Farm, Bridport: Nuberu, 2nd Place
  • Grafton Village Cheese Company, Grafton: Shepsog, 1st Place and Best of Show Finalist; Traditional Clothbound Cheddar, 2nd Place; Bear Hill, 3rd Place
  • Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro: Cave Aged Cheddar, 1st Place in Category and Best of Show finalist in collaboration with Cabot Creamery Cooperative; Alpha Tolman, 1st Place, Cabot Clothbound, 3rd Place in collaboration with Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Bayley Hazen Blue, 3rd Place; Calderwood, 3rd Place, Hartwell, 3rd Place; Winnimere, 3rd Place; Little Hosmer, 3rd Place
  • Maplebrook Farm, Bennington: Whole Milk Block Feta, 1st Place
  • Mt. Mansfield Creamery, Morrisville: Starr, 1st Place collaboration with Sage Farm Goat Dairy, Stowe
  • Parish Hill Creamery, West Westminster: Reverie, 1st Place; Kashar, 1st Place; Suffolk Punch, 2nd Place
  •  Sage Farm Goat Dairy, Stowe: Starr, 1st Place collaboration with Mt. Mansfield Creamery, Morrisville; Spruce, 1st Place, Smoked Chevre, 2nd Place; Morse Camembert, 2nd Place
  • Spring Brook Farm/Farms for City Kids Foundation, Reading: Tarentaise Reserve, 1st place and Best of Show Finalist; Reading Raclette, 3rd Place
  • Vermont Creamery, Websterville: Bijou, 1st Place and Best of Show Finalist; Classic Spreadable Goat Cheese, 1st Place; Cremont, 2nd Place; Quark, 2nd Place; Goat Feta, 3rd Place; Clover Blossom Honey Fresh Chevre, 3rd Place; We Be Chivin’ with Wegmans Market Affinage Program, 1st Place and Best of Show Finalist; Sweet 16 with Wegmans Market Affinage Program, 3rd Place
  • Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company, Woodstock: Clothbound Windsordale, 3rd Place
  • Vermont Shepherd, Putney: Well-Aged Invierno, 1st Place
  •  von Trapp Farmstead, Waitsfiled:  Mad River Blue, 1st Place

    The ACS is the leading organization supporting the understanding, appreciation, and promotion of farmstead, artisan, and specialty cheeses in the Americas.  ACS hosts North America’s foremost annual cheese-based educational conference, and world-renowned cheese judging and competition.

    For a complete list of the 2019 American Cheese Society winners, click HERE
    For more information on the Vermont Cheese Council visit www.vtcheese.com.

Spotlight on Neighborly Farms

As part of our celebration of Dairy Month, we’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on a fantastic local, organic dairy farm hailing from Randolph Center, VT: Neighborly Farms! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their award-winning organic cheeses from June 20th – 26th!  Read on to learn more about this 210-acre organic dairy farm that calls VT home:

Neighborly-Farms. Round Logo

Established as an operating dairy farm in the 1920s, Rob and Linda Dimmick, along with their son Bobby and his wife, Brooke, are continuing the tradition of family farming. Nestled in the rolling hills of Randolph Center, Vermont, Neighborly Farms decorates the countryside with its red barn and white post and beam farmhouse built in the 1800s. They operate on 210 acres with cropland and grazing fields to support the dairy and a sugarhouse for producing pure Vermont maple syrup. The lush green fields are home to 70 Holsteins in the warmer months and provide hay for the cows during the cold Vermont winters. 

The Dimmick’s are continuing the family farming tradition because they have a deeply-rooted passion for the land and animals. They are a totally organic farm. This means the farm is run in complete harmony with the land and the animals; no antibiotics, no hormones, and no commercial fertilizers. Just pure and natural techniques that keep the cows healthy, happy, and the dairy products wholesome and chemical-free. It means that the high-quality cheeses produced at Neighborly Farms are 100% organic and reflect the terroir of their surroundings. 

Neighborly Farms of Vermont is not just another dairy farm. Their commitment to organic practices and their solar energy system illustrate their love for the land and animals and deep respect for the environment.  They’ve made an active choice to integrate sustainable practices that best care for the earth, their cows, and their neighbors in both this generation and for generations to become. They make cheese the old-fashioned way and believe that caring for the land and surroundings helps them produce the finest cheeses possible.

At the Co-op, you’ll find a rotating variety of their small-batch cheeses including Jalapeno Jack, Monterey Jack, Colby, Feta, Green Onion Cheddar, and their staple Raw Milk Cheddar, many of which have been honored with awards from the prestigious American Cheese Society. They hope you enjoy them and they thank you for supporting your local, organic dairy farms!

June is Dairy Month

Since 1937, Americans have been celebrating June as National Dairy Month. As we take this time to heartily celebrate our dairy farmers this month, it’s hard to avoid mention of the many challenges that dairy farmers in Vermont and across the country continue to face as they endure the fifth consecutive year of low farm-gate milk prices. This means that the price farmers are paid for the milk they produce is well below the cost of production. As a recent press release from Rural Vermont states, “our agricultural heartbeat is in threat, as is our farmland. With an average farmer age of 58 and consistently inadequate milk prices, the future for our dairy community, and its accompanying 80% of Vermont’s agricultural land is in jeopardy as it goes through a formative transition.” 

The Local Scene

Our local dairy farmers need our support now more than ever, though some recent developments give us reason to feel optimistic.  In April of 2019 over 50 Vermont dairy farmers and eaters gathered for a meeting geared toward developing strategies for viability. The overwhelming sentiment shared throughout the meeting was one of hope and gratitude for the local support they’re receiving. The six dairy farmers on the panel that day, along with many other conventional and organic dairy farmers in attendance, underscored the value of having strong local support. They recognized the need to provide ongoing education for the community about the impact of supporting local dairy. As George van Vlaanderen of Does’ Leap Farm in East Fairfield stated, “It’s contingent on us to educate friends and neighbors about where our food comes from and the impact of voting with your dollars. We can support a prosperous agricultural future by supporting our farmer neighbors today.” Amber Machia of Red Barn in HIghgate echoed his sentiments, reminding those in attendance that impact of spending food dollars locally extends well beyond the farms, affecting the multitude of other local businesses connected to local dairy farms, including feed supply stores, trucking companies, label and package makers, and distribution hubs.

Happy grass-fed cows at Butterworks Farm

National Support

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, played a key role in forging the 2018 Farm Bill’s dairy priorities and, as a result of his efforts, the Farm Bill dramatically expanded support for dairy producers, providing flexible, affordable coverage options through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. The goal of the Farm Bill is to benefit producers of all sizes, but offers up to five times more support for the smallest farms, as those farms tend to be hardest hit during times of crisis. This is particularly good news for Vermont dairy farmers, as most manage herds of less than 200 cattle, qualifying them as small dairies by national standards. Leahy, along with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and others, penned a bipartisan letter in April asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize the implementation of the dairy provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to help provide some much-needed relief to dairy farmers without delay. Leahy followed that up with an additional bipartisan letter on May 17th urging Perdue to increase trade war relief payments to a level that more accurately reflects the damages dairy farmers have faced, as the current trade mitigation program has failed to fairly compensate dairy farmers slammed by retaliatory tariffs. It sure is nice to have a local Senator fighting so hard for our farmers.

Milk with Dignity

A bright spot in local dairy news this year was the adoption of the Milk with Dignity program by local dairy giant Ben & Jerry’s. In a recent article in VT Digger, Marita Canedo, Migrant Justice staff member and event panelist representing the Milk with Dignity Program, reflected on Ben & Jerry’s adoption of the program as a human rights victory. “It took more than two years in a public campaign and 4 years in conversation. We had to have translators and it took a long time, but we finally had everyone at the same table. There are human rights in that ice cream.” The Milk with Dignity Program brings together farmers, farmworker, buyers, and consumers to ensure dignified working conditions in the dairy supply chain, asking the corporations making the most in the dairy industry to pay for a higher standard of human rights for workers.

This came as part of a larger Values-Led Dairy Vision adopted by Ben & Jerry’s, which specifies that all dairy used by Ben & Jerry’s in the manufacture of its products will be sourced from dairy farms which have:

  • Thriving and dignified livelihoods for farmers and farm workers
  • Exceptional animal welfare standards for cows
  • A flourishing ecosystem in which feed is grown ecologically, without the use of harmful chemicals or GMOs, and in a way that protects water resources and promotes biological diversity
  • Farm operations acting as a net carbon sink through minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil.

Ben & Jerry’s sources most of the milk and cream from members of the St. Albans Cooperative. 

Grass-fed Organic Dairy Offers Solutions

The US milk glut and the accompanying drop in dairy prices over the past few years have wielded a tough blow for conventional and organic dairy farmers alike, though organic and grass-fed dairy farms are still faring better than their conventional counterparts. Consumers are beginning to recognize the importance of supporting organic dairy production that utilizes traditional pasture-based systems of rotational grazing. Not only does this system of natural grazing aid the environment in terms of soil restoration, increased biodiversity, improved water quality, and flood mitigation – but it also it guarantees healthy lives for the animals, and they, in turn, produce meat and milk that is healthier for us than the grain-fed alternatives. Soil scientists have determined that grazing animals are critical to the process of building soil organic matter. According to Jean Paul Courtens of Roxbury Farm, who presented at the recent Real Organic Project Symposium at Dartmouth, a mere one-percent increase in the soil organic matter on the four billion acres that are used for agricultural production on our planet would allow for the sequestration of 102 billion tons of carbon dioxide. When raising livestock using managed rotational grazing, it is possible to sink more carbon than one is producing, making organic agricultural production an active part of the solution to the ongoing threat of climate change.  

Happy grass-fed cows at Larson Farm & Creamery