Dairy

Spotlight on Stonyfield

We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on Stonyfield this week to highlight their commitment to organic dairy, the family farmers that make it possible, and the Earth that sustains us. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of organic dairy products from August 10th – 16th!  Read on to learn more about Stonyfield’s history and mission and their commitment to Vermont organic dairy farmers:

 

History:

While Stonyfield is best known for making yogurt, yogurt wasn’t the way the founders of Stonyfield thought they’d change the world. In 1983, Stonyfield co-founders Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg were simply trying to help family farms survive, protect the environment, and keep food and food production healthy through their nonprofit organic farming school.

Just to keep things running, the duo started putting their farm’s seven cows to work making yogurt. They knew they were making a healthy food grown with care; what they didn’t expect was how much people would love it.

People went crazy for the yogurt from Samuel and Gary’s little farm school, and the two knew they had found a way to make a real difference. With this yogurt business, the two organic farming teachers could show the whole world that a company could make healthy, delicious food without relying on toxic chemicals that harm the environment and public health.

So, the two went all-in on yogurt and, over 30 years later, the folks at Stonyfield continue to honor the example their founders set. They’re still located in New Hampshire, just 30 miles east of the old farm. And now, their organic ingredient purchases support a huge network of food producers made up of hundreds of organic family farms, thousands of organic cows, and over 200,000 organic acres!

They‘ve also pioneered planet-friendly business practices—from offsetting emissions at their production facility to making yogurt cups from plants instead of petroleum to making their own renewable energy, and much more.

The thought and passion that started Stonyfield Organic in the first place have only grown stronger, and they’ve never stopped working for healthy food, healthy people, and a healthy planet.

Commitment to Organic:

Stonyfield’s products are all 100% certified organic – made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs.  Eating organic isn’t just good for you and your family, it’s straight up good for other people and the planet. One of the main goals of organic farming practices is to avoid contamination of our precious soil, rivers, drinking water, and air with toxic persistent chemicals. This also means that organic farmers, farmworkers, and their neighbors aren’t exposed to potentially carcinogenic herbicides. Organic agriculture not only means less dependence on fossil fuels, but it can also actually help reduce climate change. It’s estimated that converting all of America’s cropland to organic would have the same carbon-reducing effect as taking 217 million cars off the road!

There is also compelling evidence to support the notion that organic dairy is more nutritious than its conventional counterpart. Why? Because it comes from cows that are actively grazing on grass, as nature intended. Organically raised cows spend their days outside on pasture so the milk they produce is significantly higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), heart-healthy fats that can help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. There is a lot to be learned and said about organic farming, and Stonyfield hopes you will join them in the journey towards healthier, more resilient food systems.

Saving our Region’s Organic Dairy Farms:

In the fall of 202110, Danone, the parent company of Horizon Organic, announced it would stop buying milk from 28 farms in Vermont and a total of 61 in Maine, New Hampshire, and New York. The deadline was originally set for August of 2022, but it was later extended to February 2023. Shortly thereafter, 46 organic family farms in eastern New York received similar notices from their processor Maple Hill Creamery.  The 135 termination notices placed a large percentage of the region’s organic dairy farms in financial jeopardy and created an urgent wake-up call for our region. Unless we take swift action, our hard-working family farms – and the promise of a climate-positive, secure food system supported by their organic methods – will face dire consequences.

Stonyfield quickly sprang into action, launching an internal task force of senior company leaders to work alongside various state departments of agriculture, nonprofit organizations, retailers, and institutional food customers to find ways to keep more of these farms alive and in business. Stonyfield ultimately agreed to take on five of those contracts and was active in forming in the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership (NOFFP) to help increase commitments from both consumers and retailers to purchase locally-produced organic milk in an effort to maintain a viable market for these farmers. Organic Valley also stepped up in a big way, offering membership to 90 of the farms affected by the contract losses. Stonyfield accepts milk through Organic Valley and directly from farmers as part of its Direct Supply Program. The farmers dropped by Danone will be part of Stonyfield’s Direct Supply Program, and new farmers’ contracts will look the same as the company’s contracts with current farmers. 

We are grateful to Stonyfield and others who have stepped up in such a big way to support our region’s organic dairy farms! We’re also grateful to consumers who are committed to supporting our region’s organic dairy farms. Our friends at NOFA-VT said it best: “by purchasing certified organic milk and dairy products, you’re supporting farmers who feed Vermonters, steward our land, and provide a massive cultural and economic value to Vermont’s rural communities.”

Spotlight on Blue Ledge Farm

We’re thrilled to shine our Member Deals Spotlight on a local cheese-making family that produces incredible award-winning cow and goat’s milk cheeses, while also demonstrating a deep commitment to environmental stewardship — Blue Ledge Farm! From June 29th – July 5th, member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on all of Blue Ledge Farm’s delicious cheeses! Read on to learn more about Blue Ledge Farm and the family that brings it to life:

 

 

Blue Ledge Farm of Salisbury, VT is a first-generation, family-owned and operated, Animal Welfare Approved dairy and cheese-making operation established in 2000 by Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt. Their mission is to create a high-quality product built on the cornerstones of respect for consumers, land, and animals as well as their local community. 

The farm began as a dream hatched by Hannah and Greg more than 20 years ago when they met in Florence, Italy while traveling throughout Europe to learn more about the arts and culture of the region. Upon returning home, the couple began transforming a retired dairy farm back into production with their Alpine and LaMancha dairy goats. They started with just four goats, but have grown and expanded over the years, now milking 125 goats twice daily and producing fourteen types of cheese, from very fresh to semi-aged bloomy rind cheeses, to firmer aged cheeses.

They also have a fruitful partnership with neighboring MoSe Farm to produce a line of cow’s milk cheeses. Seth and Monika at MoSe Farm milk Ayrshire cows, a breed known for having superior milk for cheese-making. Twice a week Blue Ledge Farm receives a fresh milk delivery from MoSe Farm which is immediately processed into smooth, buttery Camembrie; creamy, yet crumbly Middlebury Blue; apple cider-washed Richville;  or their newest cheese, a gouda-style Moosalamoo. They also blend the cow’s milk with their goat’s milk to make an aged cheese known as Riley’s 2×4

Seth and Monika from MoSe Farm

In keeping with their mission, sustainable farming practices are a top priority at Blue Ledge Farm. They compost their bed-pack manure and apply it to their fields, thereby creating a closed-loop cycle from grass to goat and back to grass. The goats graze and forage throughout most of the year, which is healthy for the goats, healthy for the consumer, and beneficial to the environment. In 2008 they built an underground aging facility, or “cave”, allowing them to store cheese underground in a naturally cool and moist environment while using considerably less energy to keep the temperature and humidity at desirable levels. They have partnered with Efficiency Vermont on several projects over the years, from a variable-speed efficient milking machine, to more efficient cooling compressors, to newer fluorescent light bulbs, all in an effort to reduce environmental impact. At the heart of their operation is a clean-burning EPA-Approved bio-mass furnace, allowing them to heat their home, cheese-house, and barn, as well as all of the hot water used in the cheese plant, with locally-produced wood pellets! And In 2015 they covered the south-facing roof of their barn with solar panels which provide nearly half of the farm’s electricity usage all summer long!

 

If you happen to be passing through Salisbury, be sure to visit their seasonal farmstand! We also love keeping up with Blue Ledge Farm happenings through their fun and informative blog

Hannah Sessions, Greg Bernhardt, and their children.

 

 

Supporting the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership

In honor of Dairy Month, which is celebrated each June, we’re shining a bright Spotlight on the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership. To understand the importance of this partnership and the impact it’s having on our local, organic dairy farms, we must first look back to the Fall of 2021, when 135 organic family farms across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and eastern New York received the sudden news that Horizon and Maple Hill Creamery were terminating their purchase contracts, effective in early 2023. To learn more about why these contracts were terminated, click here. This news put these farms, many of whom have been in business for generations, at serious risk of closure unless they find alternate outlets. In early January of 2022, the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, a first-of-its-kind campaign in partnership with the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association (MOFGA), was created to help solve the crisis of disappearing organic family farms in our region.

Nathan Rogers of Rogers Farmstead Creamery in Berlin, VT, pauses to give one of his grass-fed cows a chin scratch

The Partnership, a collaboration of farmers, processors, retailers, activists, and government agencies, invites consumers to pledge to purchase at least one-fourth of their weekly organic dairy purchases from brands that have committed to sourcing their dairy from Northeast organic family farmers. A central goal of the effort is to increase demand for dairy produced in our region, creating market stability to help save at-risk farms and build greater food system resilience for the future.

Strafford Organic Creamery owners Earl Ransom and Amy Huyffer, pictured with their family and their happy, grass-fed cows

We are proud to announce that your Co-op has joined the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership. To secure the future of organic dairy farming in the northeast, we’re committed to purchasing organic dairy products from brands that source their milk from our region. We’re also encouraging member-owners and the community to become informed about the Partnership and take the pledge to purchase ¼ of your weekly dairy products from Brand Partners. When you commit to buying one-fourth of your weekly dairy items from the brands that support our region’s organic family farms, you become a proud Consumer Partner with all of these farmers. 

Why Does This Matter?

Family farms reconnect us to the land and each other. They provide our communities with beautiful open spaces, abundant wildlife habitats, and rural charm. We pick fruit in their fields and orchards and pet their cows at county fairs. Family farms remind us where our food comes from and connect us with the hands that feed us.

When you pledge to buy the products from our region’s organic family farmers, you are not just helping to keep these farms financially viable. You are supporting true environmental and health heroes. Organic farmers foster healthy soils, which are both a founding principle of organic production and key to fighting climate change. Vermont’s organic farms release fewer greenhouse gases than their conventional counterparts, protect our water and other natural resources, are more resilient to extreme weather events, sequester carbon through their management practices, promote biodiversity, and provide greater community food security. Moreover, you are helping to support a fairer, more stable agricultural market, which keeps thousands of small family farms in business and thriving. In fact, organic milk prices are traditionally more stable than the conventional dairy market, so organic farmers often have an easier job of covering production costs. That means they have a better chance of keeping the lights on at the farm and the cows out in the pasture, where they belong.

Mercy Larson of Larson Farm and Creamery in Wells, VT pictured with one of her grass-fed cows

“The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership celebrates the fact that when it comes to supporting our region’s organic family farmers, it really does take a village,” said Gary Hirshberg, chair of the Partnership and co-founder of Stonyfield Organic. “Everyone has a stake in the long-term financial health of our region’s farms and farm families. The simple act of pledging to purchase one-quarter of dairy items from the brands, processors, and farms that support these family farmers, can help to ensure that farms remain healthy, vibrant, financially viable, and environmentally and climate-positive parts of the northeast region for generations to come.” 

The late great Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, VT pictured with wife, Anne, and daughter Christine, along with her family.

The decline in the number of small family farmers is unfortunately not a new story, as the United States, and especially the northeast, has seen drastic reductions in the number of both farms and acreage over the last decade. From 2012 to 2021 alone, Vermont has lost over 390 individual dairy farms as food production has largely been ceded away from small families, and into large, agri-business operations, through no fault of their own. However, organic family farmers are important contributors to a healthy environment and thriving rural life and are important players in the region’s food system. 

Elliot of Rogers Farmstead Creamery in Berlin, VT greets customers at his family’s organic farmstand

The next time you are shopping in the dairy or cheese cases, look for the Northeast Organic Family Farm Seal to identify Partner Brands. When you see the seal, you can be confident that your purchase supports hard-working organic dairy farmers in the Northeast. We will continue to lose our region’s farms without strong consumer support for their products. For more information on the campaign and to take the pledge, click here

Spotlight on Cabot Creamery

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Cabot Creamery this week to shed a little light on this 102-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 February 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:

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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 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, over 100 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 Butterworks Farm

Butterworks Farm is basking in the glow of the Member Deals Spotlight this week and all of their local, organic, grass-fed dairy products are 20% off for member-owners from January 19th – 25th. Read on to learn more about this local farm worked by three generations of the Lazor Family over 46 years to bring you high-quality products with a deep emphasis on regenerative practices that promote soil building, carbon sequestration, water retention, and biodiversity:

Over forty-six years ago, Jack and Anne Lazor came to Westfield, VT fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne) and a desire to live “happily ever after as a couple of back-to-the-landers.” By 1979, the couple was selling yogurt, cottage cheese, and raw milk locally to a growing fan base. Over the next several decades, Jack and Anne continued to blaze new trail as leaders in organic farming, laying a firm foundation for the robust local food system whose fruits we’re lucky to enjoy today.

Along the way, Jack managed to find time to teach classes in organic agriculture at the University of Vermont, give frequent inspirational keynote addresses at organic farming conferences, fervently advocate for the adoption of organic practices, particularly within the dairy sector, and write a book called “The Organic Grain Grower” which Mother Earth News dubbed “the best resource we’ve seen for small-scale grain growers everywhere.” Jack was known for being an avid perpetual student as he and Anne exhaustively researched ways to farm with environmental stewardship at the forefront. 

In 2010, Jack was diagnosed with prostate cancer and spent seven years on dialysis for cancer-related kidney failure. Over that period of time, Anne kept Jack and the farm running, serving as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire Butterworks team. After a long and courageous fight, Jack lost his battle with cancer in November of 2020. Jack and Anne’s daughter Christine Lazor grew up at Butterworks Farm and now has a family of her own. A deep love for the team, the farm, the animals, the products, and the mountains keep her inspired as she and her family carry on the rich farming traditions that her parents began.

Jack & Anne Lazor

 

The lucky cows of Butterworks Farm are a herd of very friendly and sometimes precocious Jerseys. Each has her own name and stanchion in the barn during milking. Jerseys were chosen for their ability to produce exceptional milk on a 100% grass-fed diet. High fiber and mineral-rich grasses, legumes, and forages are always available to the cows in the lush, rotationally grazed pastures of summer and the sweet hay in the winter solar barn.

Their farming methods have evolved over the years. For the first forty years, they were grain growers and hay producers. Cereal crops such as oats, wheat, and barley, along with row crops like corn and soy fit neatly into their crop rotations with grasses and legumes. From the straw for the animals’ bedding to the grain the cows ate, everything was grown on the farm. Over the years, as their soil health and fertility increased, the quality of their forages improved until they realized that they could likely reduce the amount of grain that was being fed to the cows. By 2016, they had phased out grains completely and became a 100% grass-fed dairy, rotating the cows on fresh pasture every twelve hours.  

 

Jack shared in a Butterwork’s Farm blog post that, “our transition to 100% grass-fed is well worth it.  Despite the fact that we will need more land and sharpened management skills to do this, we are very happy to promote more grass and less grain (and subsequently less tillage) on the land that we steward.  More grass means more fibrous root systems in the soil.  Less grain means less tillage and better soil health.  Less tillage means less burning of fossil fuels and less disturbance to the delicate balance of microorganisms in our soils. Our primary goal in farming is to take more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and through photosynthesis, lock it up in the Earth’s crust as humus and organic matter.  Higher carbon levels in the soil are the number one weapon that we as humans have to reduce and eliminate the effects of a changing climate.”

 

Anne and Jack Lazor were awarded NOFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and were the first organic farmers to be inducted into the Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame.Jack was also posthumously featured in the Vermont Public Soul of the Soil series in October of 2022, celebrating the ways that Jack boldly changed his practices in an effort to deepen his lifelong commitment to healing the earth through farming. We’re grateful that his family carries on this incredible legacy!

 

Spotlight on Stonyfield

We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on Stonyfield this week to highlight their commitment to organic dairy, the family farmers that make it possible, and the Earth that sustains us. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of organic dairy products from August 11th – 17th!  Read on to learn more about Stonyfield’s history and mission and their commitment to Vermont organic dairy farmers:

 

History:

While Stonyfield is best known for making yogurt, yogurt wasn’t the way the founders of Stonyfield thought they’d change the world. In 1983, Stonyfield co-founders Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg were simply trying to help family farms survive, protect the environment, and keep food and food production healthy through their nonprofit organic farming school.

Just to keep things running, the duo started putting their farm’s seven cows to work making yogurt. They knew they were making a healthy food grown with care; what they didn’t expect was how much people would love it.

People went crazy for the yogurt from Samuel and Gary’s little farm school, and the two knew they had found a way to make a real difference. With this yogurt business, the two organic farming teachers could show the whole world that a company could make healthy, delicious food without relying on toxic chemicals that harm the environment and public health.

So, the two went all-in on yogurt and, over 30 years later, the folks at Stonyfield continue to honor the example their founders set. They’re still located in New Hampshire, just 30 miles east of the old farm. And now, their organic ingredient purchases support a huge network of food producers made up of hundreds of organic family farms, thousands of organic cows, and over 200,000 organic acres!

They‘ve also pioneered planet-friendly business practices—from offsetting emissions at their production facility to making yogurt cups from plants instead of petroleum to making their own renewable energy, and much more.

The thought and passion that started Stonyfield Organic in the first place have only grown stronger, and they’ve never stopped working for healthy food, healthy people, and a healthy planet.

Commitment to Organic:

Stonyfield’s products are all 100% certified organic – made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs.  Eating organic isn’t just good for you and your family, it’s straight up good for other people and the planet. One of the main goals of organic farming practices is to avoid contamination of our precious soil, rivers, drinking water, and air with toxic persistent chemicals. This also means that organic farmers, farmworkers, and their neighbors aren’t exposed to potentially carcinogenic herbicides. Organic agriculture not only means less dependence on fossil fuels, but it can also actually help reduce climate change. It’s estimated that converting all of America’s cropland to organic would have the same carbon-reducing effect as taking 217 million cars off the road!

There is also compelling evidence to support the notion that organic dairy is more nutritious than its conventional counterpart. Why? Because it comes from cows that are actively grazing on grass, as nature intended. Organically raised cows spend their days outside on pasture so the milk they produce is significantly higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), heart-healthy fats that can help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. There is a lot to be learned and said about organic farming, and Stonyfield hopes you will join them in the journey towards healthier, more resilient food systems.

Saving our Region’s Organic Dairy Farms:

Last summer, Danone, the parent company of Horizon Organic, announced it would stop buying milk from 28 farms in Vermont and a total of 61 in Maine, New Hampshire, and New York. The deadline was originally set for August of 2022, but it was later extended to February 2023. Shortly thereafter, 46 organic family farms in eastern New York received similar notices from their processor Maple Hill Creamery.  The 135 termination notices placed a large percentage of the region’s organic dairy farms in financial jeopardy and created an urgent wake-up call for our region. Unless we take swift action, our hard-working family farms – and the promise of a climate-positive, secure food system supported by their organic methods – will face dire consequences.

Stonyfield quickly sprang into action, launching an internal task force of senior company leaders to work alongside various state departments of agriculture, nonprofit organizations, retailers, and institutional food customers to find ways to keep more of these farms alive and in business. Stonyfield ultimately agreed to take on five of those contracts and was active in forming in the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership (NOFFP) to help increase commitments from both consumers and retailers to purchase locally-produced organic milk in an effort to maintain a viable market for these farmers. Organic Valley also stepped up in a big way, offering membership to 90 of the farms affected by the contract losses. Stonyfield accepts milk through Organic Valley and directly from farmers as part of its Direct Supply Program. The farmers dropped by Danone will be part of Stonyfield’s Direct Supply Program, and new farmers’ contracts will look the same as the company’s contracts with current farmers. 

We are grateful to Stonyfield and others who have stepped up in such a big way to support our region’s organic dairy farms! We’re also grateful to consumers who are committed to supporting our region’s organic dairy farms. Our friends at NOFA-VT said it best: “by purchasing certified organic milk and dairy products, you’re supporting farmers who feed Vermonters, steward our land, and provide a massive cultural and economic value to Vermont’s rural communities.”

Your Co-op is a proud Retail Partner of the NOFFP, of which Stonyfield is an active Brand Partner

Spotlight on Blue Ledge Farm

We’re thrilled to shine our Member Deals Spotlight on a local cheese-making family that produces incredible award-winning cow and goat’s milk cheeses, while also demonstrating a deep commitment to environmental stewardship — Blue Ledge Farm! From June 9th – 15th, member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on all of Blue Ledge Farm’s delicious cheeses! Read on to learn more about Blue Ledge Farm and the family that brings it to life:

 

 

Blue Ledge Farm of Salisbury, VT is a first-generation, family-owned and operated, Animal Welfare Approved dairy and cheese-making operation established in 2000 by Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt. Their mission is to create a high-quality product built on the cornerstones of respect for consumers, land, and animals as well as their local community. 

The farm began as a dream hatched by Hannah and Greg more than 20 years ago when they met in Florence, Italy while traveling throughout Europe to learn more about the arts and culture of the region. Upon returning home, the couple began transforming a retired dairy farm back into production with their Alpine and LaMancha dairy goats. They started with just four goats, but have grown and expanded over the years, now milking 125 goats twice daily and producing fourteen types of cheese, from very fresh to semi-aged bloomy rind cheeses, to firmer aged cheeses.

They also launched a partnership with neighboring MoSe Farm to produce a line of cow’s milk cheeses. Seth and Monika at MoSe Farm milk Ayrshire cows, a breed known for having superior milk for cheese-making. Twice a week Blue Ledge Farm receives a fresh milk delivery from MoSe Farm which is immediately processed into smooth, buttery Camembrie; creamy, yet crumbly Middlebury Blue; apple cider-washed Richville;  or their newest cheese, a gouda-style Moosalamoo. They also blend the cow’s milk with their goat’s milk to make an aged cheese known as Riley’s 2×4

Seth and Monika from MoSe Farm

In keeping with their mission, sustainable farming practices are a top priority at Blue Ledge Farm. They compost their bed-pack manure and apply it to their fields, thereby creating a closed-loop cycle from grass to goat and back to grass. The goats graze and forage throughout most of the year, which is healthy for the goats, healthy for the consumer, and beneficial to the environment. In 2008 they built an underground aging facility, or “cave”, allowing them to store cheese underground in a naturally cool and moist environment while using considerably less energy to keep the temperature and humidity at desirable levels. They have partnered with Efficiency Vermont on several projects over the years, from a variable-speed efficient milking machine, to more efficient cooling compressors, to newer fluorescent light bulbs, all in an effort to reduce environmental impact. At the heart of their operation is a clean-burning EPA-Approved bio-mass furnace, allowing them to heat their home, cheese-house, and barn, as well as all of the hot water used in the cheese plant, with locally-produced wood pellets! And In 2015 they covered the south-facing roof of their barn with solar panels which provide nearly half of the farm’s electricity usage all summer long!

 

If you happen to be passing through Salisbury, be sure to visit their seasonal farmstand! We also love keeping up with Blue Ledge Farm happenings through their fun and informative blog

 

 

Supporting the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership

Last fall, 135 organic family farms across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and eastern New York received the sudden news that Horizon and Maple Hill Creamery were terminating their purchase contracts, effective in early 2023. This news put these farms, many of whom have been in business for generations, at serious risk of closure unless they find alternate outlets. In early January, the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, a first-of-its-kind campaign in partnership with the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association (MOFGA), was created to help solve the crisis of disappearing organic family farms in our region.

Nathan Rogers of Rogers Farmstead Creamery in Berlin, VT, pauses to give one of his grass-fed cows a chin scratch

The Partnership, a collaboration of farmers, processors, retailers, activists, and government agencies, invites consumers to pledge to purchase at least one-fourth of their weekly organic dairy purchases from brands that have committed to sourcing their dairy from Northeast organic family farmers. A central goal of the effort is to increase demand for dairy produced in our region, creating market stability to help save at-risk farms and build greater food system resilience for the future.

Strafford Organic Creamery owners Earl Ransom and Amy Huyffer, pictured with their family and their happy, grass-fed cows

We are proud to announce that your Co-op has joined the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership. To secure the future of organic dairy farming in the northeast, we’re committed to purchasing organic dairy products from brands that source their milk from our region. We’re also encouraging member-owners and the community to become informed about the Partnership and take the pledge to purchase ¼ of your weekly dairy products from Brand Partners. When you commit to buying one-fourth of your weekly dairy items from the brands that support our region’s organic family farms, you become a proud Consumer Partner with all of these farmers. 

Mercy Larson of Larson Farm and Creamery in Wells, VT pictured with one of her grass-fed cows

“The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership celebrates the fact that when it comes to supporting our region’s organic family farmers, it really does take a village,” said Gary Hirshberg, chair of the Partnership and co-founder of Stonyfield Organic. “Everyone has a stake in the long-term financial health of our region’s farms and farm families. The simple act of pledging to purchase one-quarter of dairy items from the brands, processors, and farms that support these family farmers, can help to ensure that farms remain healthy, vibrant, financially viable, and environmentally and climate-positive parts of the northeast region for generations to come.” 

The late great Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, VT pictured with wife, Anne, and daughter Christine, along with her family.

The decline in the number of small family farmers is unfortunately not a new story, as the United States, and especially the northeast, has seen drastic reductions in the number of both farms and acreage over the last decade. From 2012 to 2021 alone, Vermont has lost over 390 individual dairy farms as food production has largely been ceded away from small families, and into large, agri-business operations, through no fault of their own. However, organic family farmers are important contributors to a healthy environment and thriving rural life and are important players in the region’s food system. Organic farms have been shown to be more profitable than conventional farms, promote sustainability, sequester more soil carbon, decrease harmful environmental impacts, and have been shown to be more profitable and produce healthier livestock and higher milk quality.  

Elliot of Rogers Farmstead Creamery in Berlin, VT greets customers at his family’s organic farmstand

The next time you are shopping in the dairy or cheese cases, look for the Northeast Organic Family Farm Seal to identify Partner Brands. When you see the seal, you can be confident that your purchase supports hard-working organic dairy farmers in the Northeast. We will continue to lose our region’s farms without strong consumer support for their products.

A sampling of NOFFP products available at the Co-op

 

For more information on the campaign and to take the pledge, click here

Supporting the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership

Last fall, 135 organic family farms across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and eastern New York received the sudden news that Horizon and Maple Hill Creamery were terminating their purchase contracts, effective in early 2023. This news put these farms, many of whom have been in business for generations, at serious risk of closure unless they find alternate outlets. In early January, the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, a first-of-its-kind campaign in partnership with the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association (MOFGA), was created to help solve the crisis of disappearing organic family farms in our region.

Nathan Rogers of Rogers Farmstead Creamery in Berlin, VT, pauses to give one of his grass-fed cows a chin scratch

The Partnership, a collaboration of farmers, processors, retailers, activists, and government agencies, invites consumers to pledge to purchase at least one-fourth of their weekly organic dairy purchases from brands that have committed to sourcing their dairy from Northeast organic family farmers. A central goal of the effort is to increase demand for dairy produced in our region, creating market stability to help save at-risk farms and build greater food system resilience for the future.

Strafford Organic Creamery owners Earl Ransom and Amy Huyffer, pictured with their family and their happy, grass-fed cows

We are proud to announce that your Co-op has joined the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership. To secure the future of organic dairy farming in the northeast, we’re committed to purchasing organic dairy products from brands that source their milk from our region. We’re also encouraging member-owners and the community to become informed about the Partnership and take the pledge to purchase ¼ of your weekly dairy products from Brand Partners. When you commit to buying one-fourth of your weekly dairy items from the brands that support our region’s organic family farms, you become a proud Consumer Partner with all of these farmers. 

Mercy Larson of Larson Farm and Creamery in Wells, VT pictured with one of her grass-fed cows

“The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership celebrates the fact that when it comes to supporting our region’s organic family farmers, it really does take a village,” said Gary Hirshberg, chair of the Partnership and co-founder of Stonyfield Organic. “Everyone has a stake in the long-term financial health of our region’s farms and farm families. The simple act of pledging to purchase one-quarter of dairy items from the brands, processors, and farms that support these family farmers, can help to ensure that farms remain healthy, vibrant, financially viable, and environmentally and climate-positive parts of the northeast region for generations to come.” 

The late great Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, VT pictured with wife, Anne, and daughter Christine, along with her family.

The decline in the number of small family farmers is unfortunately not a new story, as the United States, and especially the northeast, has seen drastic reductions in the number of both farms and acreage over the last decade. From 2012 to 2021 alone, Vermont has lost over 390 individual dairy farms as food production has largely been ceded away from small families, and into large, agri-business operations, through no fault of their own. However, organic family farmers are important contributors to a healthy environment and thriving rural life and are important players in the region’s food system. Organic farms have been shown to be more profitable than conventional farms, promote sustainability, sequester more soil carbon, decrease harmful environmental impacts, and have been shown to be more profitable and produce healthier livestock and higher milk quality.  

Elliot of Rogers Farmstead Creamery in Berlin, VT greets customers at his family’s organic farmstand

The next time you are shopping in the dairy or cheese cases, look for the Northeast Organic Family Farm Seal to identify Partner Brands. When you see the seal, you can be confident that your purchase supports hard-working organic dairy farmers in the Northeast. We will continue to lose our region’s farms without strong consumer support for their products.

A sampling of NOFFP products available at the Co-op

 

For more information on the campaign and to take the pledge, click here

Spotlight on Cabot Creamery

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Cabot Creamery this week to shed a little light on this 101-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 February 17th -23rd! 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:

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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 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, over 100 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: