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 this week! Read on to learn more about Stonyfield’s history and a few of their impressive initiatives to help support farmers and the environment.
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 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, they remain steadfast in their mission. They’re still headquartered in New Hampshire, just 30 miles east of the old farm where it all began.
Stonyfield’s products are all 100% certified organic – made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs. In one year alone, their organic ingredient purchases keep more than 185,000 pounds of toxic persistent pesticides from the air, water, and land! WOW!
Supporting Farmers & Caring for the Planet
Stonyfield believes in the importance of supporting family farms and taking care of the world around us. They consider the impact of everything they do–from the plant-based packaging to the quality of the ingredients, to how their products are made, and finally, how it gets to you.
When they learned that the organic farmers cooperative from which they source their bananas was having to endure significant hardships and loss to get the bananas to a processing facility, they knew they needed to step up. Transporting the bananas to the nearest 3rd-party processing plant required farmers to transport their crops on their backs, then by boat, and then by truck to get there. Even under the best conditions, the trip takes many hours and is often fraught with hazard. In the end, up to 40% of the fruit is either lost on the journey or left to rot on the trees. Given the challenges of processing at such a remote facility, there’s little incentive for farmers to fully harvest available fruit or invest in their farms. Upon learning this, Stonyfield invested in a processing plant that is completely owned and operated by the AAPTA growers cooperative, allowing them to cut waste, improve efficiencies and stabilize their income. How cool is that?! Click here to read more about it!
Stonyfield is also helping to jumpstart the next generation of organic farmers. They recognized that the population of organic dairy farmers is aging, and very few people are lining up to take their places as they retire. They decided to play a central role in sustaining and rebuilding organic dairy in America through a groundbreaking training program for organic dairy farmers. In the program, aspiring organic dairy farmers spend two years at Wolfe’s Neck Farm on the coast of Maine. Living on site, they receive intensive training in organic farm and pasture management, animal health and comfort, and business planning. At the end, they pitch their farm business plan to potential investors before setting out on their own. The first group of trainees started in June of 2015. Stonyfield will be following this first batch of farmers on their blog as they move through the program, so stay tuned!
Click HERE to read more about Stonyfield’s sustainability initiatives.
Click HERE for tasty recipes!