The expectant dad, Troy, is one of four cousins age 21 to 32 who are the third generation working on the high-profile Vermont dairy farm. Their fathers, three brothers, lead the almost 60-year-old farm in partnership with their wives. In total, the farm employs 29 full-time. A pioneer in “Cow Power,” Blue Spruce generates enough electricity to power 400 homes through manure digestion. Digested solids are then used for clean, soft cow bedding and the remainder becomes natural fertilizer to grow feed for the herd and is also sold as compost. It’s a carefully monitored closed loop in which nothing goes to waste; innovation such as this has enabled the farm to stay vibrant and viable for the next generation.
“As a young kid,” reflects Nathan Audet, “I would just follow my dad around. If I got bored, I would find an uncle or my grandpa. There was always something interesting going on.” Nathan went away to school and worked in agriculture off the family farm for one summer. But, he reflects, once he knew he was going to be a farmer, “For me it was obvious it was going to be right here.” Nathan’s dad, Eugene, had a similar experience, he recalls. “We were born into it. We were always involved,” he says. Farming, as everyone knows, includes a lot of hard work and stress but, Eugene concludes, “If I was to do it over again, I would still be a farmer. It’s a good life with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.”
The family is very proud to share all that they have going on during the Breakfast on the Farm event. Marie Audet, Eugene’s wife and Nathan’s mom, and one of her nieces, Ashley Audet, have been busy planning. An informational and fun self-guided tour will start at the feeding station where visitors will hear how the mix includes some perfectly edible food processing waste like apple cider mash and spent brewers’ grain. They will move on to learn about Cow Power, visit the baby calves and see the milking parlor, where 1,400 cows are milked twice daily and even the cleaning water is recycled. There will be a yogurt smoothie bike, antique tractors, 4-H’ers showing off their animals and, of course, a free pancake breakfast for all.
It is testament to the Audet family’s deep roots and the tightknit community that the breakfast will include donations from several other neighboring farmers including maple syrup from Ledge Haven Farm and Georgia Mountain Maple and milk (including the best chocolate milk ever) from Monument Farms. “It’s humbling and encouraging when I think about all the volunteers that have signed up to help make this event happen,” says Marie, “and again when we realize that hundreds of Vermonters are choosing to attend.”
To learn more about Blue Spruce Farm, check out this interview with Eugene Audet.
For more details on how they generate electricity from cow manure, click here.
Blue Spruce Farm is hosting Vermont Breakfast on the Farm on Saturday, July 22. Tickets, which include breakfast and self-guided tours with activity stations, are free but you must register for one of four time slots (from 8:30 to 11:30 am start times) here.
If you can’t make it the Vermont Breakfast on the Farm for free pancakes, try this chocolate-studded pancake recipe with raspberry maple syrup.
Melissa Pasanen is an award-winning Vermont-based journalist and cookbook author with a focus on food, farming, and sustainability. She was the writer for The Cabot Creamery Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 2015).