Dutch Hollow Farm – Schodack Landing, New York
When Paul and Melanie Chittenden originally purchased Dutch Hollow Farm, they started with 55 cows and 165 acres. It has been a long, steady climb since then, and all hands have pitched in. They now run the farm with their sons Brian, Alan, and Nathan. Paul is a third generation dairy farmer; his father and grandfather farmed in New Lebanon, New York. Paul moved to Schodack Landing in 1976 and began the operation at Dutch Hollow Farm. It’s been thriving ever since. They now milk 650 Jersey cows, and care for 600 more, on 2,000 acres of land. Today the fifth generation of Chittendens are finding their way into the dairy industry by different avenues: agricultural college, internships, and jobs in agriculture off the family farm.
The three boys were raised on the farm, along with their sister who now farms in Australia. Brian is the overall farm manager. He also manages the crops, growing 800 acres of corn, 250 of soybeans, 150 of grain, and 800 acres of alfalfa & grass hay. Alan is responsible for managing the herd, which ranks among the top in the country. Nathan manages the calves and heifers, which is always a daunting task. Melanie is the fifth family partner, and she helps with the calves and does the bookkeeping. Today there are 16 family members who can all be seen at the farm lending a hand.
Chittendens are teaching next gen thru a Discovery Center on their farm. Read more on @cabotcheese blog http://ow.ly/HL0SX #FarmerFriday
The Chittendens are always busy managing the farm, but they still find time for other activities. Brian, Alan & Paul have all been President of Jersey Cattle Associations while Paul and his father, Stanley were Past-Presidents of the National American Jersey Cattle Association. “We believe in the jersey cow’s efficiency, vigor and high quality milk.”
Dutch Hollow has thousands of visitors to the farm every year. Brian’s wife Beth has created a Discovery Center dedicated to educating the public about dairy farming. 4-H members, pre-school children, elementary & high school kids, as well as scout troops visit to learn about animals, plants, and modern technology on the farm. The local high school’s environmental class visits each spring to discuss modern farming ideas and culinary students visit to learn about the origin of food. “Our farm is always open. We love to host visitors of all ages and from all over the world.”
Each year on the first weekend in August, the Chittendens open the farm to the public with their ‘Annual Day at the Dairy.’ Visitors can watch the cows getting milked, take a hayride, pet the calves and sample Cabot cheese. To schedule a visit at a different time, groups and families are invited to contact the farm a few weeks in advance to make an appointment.
This week, Beth took the time to answer a few questions about the farm:
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
A dairy farm family works together towards one common goal of growing their crops and cattle. On our farm we have three generations working together, cousins team up to work together, Grandpa supervisors the youngsters, and in the end we are happy we have each other to rely on. Our product provides vital nutrients for our family and consumers. We consider ourselves a farm of families.
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
Spring is our favorite time of year. The world begins anew with the seeds of the new year’s crop being planted, the grass turning green and sounds of the animals in the environment we live. The cycle of life has started again.
Does anyone in your family participate in any Volunteer Activities in the community?
- Schodack Landing Volunteer Fire Company – Brian Chittenden
- Stuyvesant Town Board Member – Brian Chittenden
- President of NY Jersey Association – Brian Chittenden
- Cornell Cooperative Extension Board – Nathan Chittenden
- County 4-H Dairy Bowl Coach – Nathan Chittenden
- New York State Director on the American Jersey Association Board – Alan Chittenden
- Farm Bureau Board Member – Beth Chittenden
- 4-H Leader Volunteer – Beth Chittenden
What is the next big sustainability story on your farm?
First, we must be good stewards of the land. To be sustainable our dairy operation needs to conserve the land to be used year after year to grow crops for the animals. We utilize cover crops, conservation tillage, nutrient management and solar power to ensure that our farm is in great shape for the next generation. Through Hudson Valley Land Conservation organizations we have guaranteed that our farm will remain in agriculture for the next 100 years.
Furthermore, we must produce a product that consumers desire and they understand the practices we use in growing their food. Our farm transparency and inviting people to our farm gives them confidence in knowing our animals are well cared for and we produce a high quality product.
What is one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
First, our goal is to meet the needs of every animal every day on our farm. Also, farming is our way of life. We chose to be farmers because our passion is to care for our animals and the soil. It behooves us to take care of our cattle and soil as we depend on them as our only source of income.