South Royalton, VT
In bucolic South Royalton, Vermont David and Peggy Ainsworth run Westland farms. It’s set on 450 acres and is home to 50 milking cows and 50 young stock. David is a fifth-generation farmer, who grew up on the farm. The Ainsworths’ young grandchildren are often on the farm and love helping out in any way they can. This looks like a venture that is likely to continue for generations into the future.
Dairy farming can be a full time occupation, but the Ainsworths also have three large greenhouses. They grow tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, sweet corn and other vegetables, which they sell at two local farmer markets and at their own roadside stand. There are no employees at the stand. Instead, their choicest vegetables are on display with a sign showing the cost of each. They trust people to leave the money in the box. It turns out that customers always do. The stand has been a profit center for many years.
Peggy, who grew up on a poultry farm in nearby Chelsea, was an elementary school teacher for 30 years, and regularly brought classes to the farm for field trips, picnics, and a look into where their food comes from. She was also a firefighter in the town for six years, and currently serves on the town Selectboard. David is the town moderator for South Royalton. He is also a Director at the popular Tunbridge World’s Fair, which this year runs from September 11 – 14.
Peggy speaks for both of them when she says, “We love dairy farming, and we love Vermont. It’s very satisfying to be involved in so many ways.”
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
We think that farm life is the best way to raise a family. There’s always something that everyone can do depending upon age and ability. Being part of a dairy farm family gives youngsters a chance to learn responsibility for the land and livestock. It helps you appreciate nature and what the good earth can yield for both self-subsistence and commercial production.
What is your family’s favorite meal? Care to share a recipe?
Here are two of our favorites:
Shepherd’s Pie – Combine cooked hamburger, sweet corn, shredded cheese in well-greased baking dish and top with whipped potatoes. Bake in the oven until potatoes are golden brown.
Dried Beef Casserole – 1 can cream of mushroom soup; 1 cup milk; 1 cup shredded Cabot cheese; 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced; 1 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked; 3 tbl onion, chopped; 1/4 lb. dried beef, finely chopped. Stir milk into soup until well blended. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into well-greased 1.5 quart baking dish. Store covered in refrigerator 3-4 hours or overnight. Bake uncovered at 350 for one hour.
What is your least favorite farm chore?
Fence trimming and repair are at the top of the list. It’s because we have miles of electric fencing and a large amount of invasive weeds. Also the hills seem to get steeper each year and the pastures go up and down and all around the hills!
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
I like the springtime when the plants and animals start over with new life. Planting and watching things grow is always exciting. But it is hard to not like all the different seasons!
What is one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
I would like them to know that on the farm it is a year-round, 365-day-a-year job. The work is sometimes hard, fun, routine, boring, exciting, and always more to do than one has time to get done!
Learn more about Westland Farms by taking a Virtual Farm Tour.