Blue Spruce Farm, Bridport, Vermont
Norman and Mary-Rose Audet of Bridport, Vermont purchased the Blue Spruce Farm in 1958, and they quickly went to work raising a family of five and building a farm for the ages. Of the five adult Audet children, four work full-time with their families. The fifth returns with her family each summer to experience life on the farm. And if that weren’t enough, the third generation is now entering the work force. Their career choice? Return to their roots and work the family farm they love so much.
Says Marie Audet, wife of oldest son, Eugene: “This is not an easy way to make a living, and we have to become extremely efficient in every area of our operations in order to survive a volatile dairy market.” How do they do this exactly? Well, the Audets are not only remarkable dairy farmers; they are also leaders in recycling and bioenergy.
#CowPower & #FarmLove – this week @cabotcheese features the Audets of Blue Spruce Farm in #VT #ontheblog http://ow.ly/JF4Zt
Blue Spruce Farm was the first in Vermont to install a “Cow Power” system and now work with Green Mountain Power – like Cabot, they are a B Corporation. Instead of cow manure emitting methane and other greenhouse gases into atmosphere, the Audets collect the waste and turn it into energy. Instead of taking electricity off the grid, the Audets generate enough electricity to support the needs of some 400 families in the state. Cabot’s three Vermont retail stores also participate in the Cow Power program to help meet their electricity needs. And in 2012, Green Mountain Power and Killington Mountain Resort partnered to use Cow Power to run their K-1 Express Gondola.
Aside from the energy created, the nutrient rich byproducts of the recycling process are used for fertilizer, and the safe and odorless solid matter that remains is used as “bedding” for the cows. Instead of spending $2,000 every week purchasing sawdust to use as bedding, the Audets now use this recycled product already available on the farm. Nothing gets ignored, nothing gets wasted.
In 2012, the Audets were recognized in a major way for their efforts, being awarded the first ever Nation Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability by the Innovation Center for US Dairy. But they didn’t rest on their laurels; in May of 2013 the family commissioned a Northern Power community sized Wind Turbine, adding to their renewable portfolio.
In addition to the more visible sustainability efforts the Audets have integrated into their farm, they also utilize practices like cover crops and conservation tillage which means less time in the field on the tractor, less fuel and more nutrients and moisture retention in the soil. They are also founding members of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition, a group of farmers working together for a clean Lake Champlain and thriving agriculture in Vermont.
Not only are the Audets great dairy farmers, they are also blazing a trail as leading stewards of the environment.
- 2005 Pioneer farm for CVPS Cow Power Producer
- 2005 Vermont Sustainable Agriculture Farm of the Year
- 2005-2006 Governors Award for Environmental Excellence
- 2008 Conservation Farmer of the Year (by our Conservation District)
- 2008 Farm Family of the Year (from Addison County Farm Bureau
- 2012 National Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability from the Innovation Center for US Dairy
- 2014 Eastern States Exposition Agricultural Adventurers Award
Marie took some time to answer our Farmer Friday questions:
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
Summer – Love the energy and teamwork surrounding the monumental task of growing and harvesting the feed that will sustain our cows for the following year. Sure, farming is all consuming, hard work, the funny thing is, our hobbies are just an extension of what we do everyday! We compete in Cow Shows, and in Tractor Pulling. We love the longer days of summer–of course, more hours of daylight for working. But it’s still a really fun time.
What is one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
So many people rely on so few of us to produce and grow their food. It’s a responsibility dairy farmers today take very seriously. In fact, 2% of the US population awakes each day to provide food for the remaining 98%! This allows for misperceptions of how we go about our work each day. It just puts more emphasis on making sure people hear our story and they get to now us and our farms. We live and breathe our work, we love our families, and we are passionate about our animals and protecting our natural resources. We are proud of the work we do and hope at the end of the day, our community feels the same.