Cabot farmers do more than produce the fresh milk for our award-winning dairy products. They’re industry-leading innovators who are pioneering next-century farm practices that improve care for cows, increase farm efficiency, and create renewable energy that supports their communities and makes farming more sustainable.
Let’s meet some of the farms—and inspiring farmers—using Real Farm Power to move farming forward.
At Barstow’s Longview Farm, now run by the sixth and seventh generations of this farm family, sustainability is a family passion and a successful business model. The farm is home to robotic milking machines that improve cow care by making milking more comfortable, more efficient—and since the cows themselves choose when to be milked—more independent. The system also tracks each cow’s individual yield so that farmers can care even better for the health of their herd.
For the Barstows, farming is all about community, and they love sharing their practices and chatting with neighbors in their dairy store or at their famous sweet corn stand during the summer. “I like working toward something that’s helping my family sustain this land and our community,” says Kelly Barstow.
At Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, Vermont, owners Marie and Eugene Audet believe that growth and innovation are part of what it means to be a farmer. “We don’t farm the way we did ten years ago, or even five years ago,” Marie says. “We’re changing year by year.”
That means planting cover crops that help reduce soil erosion during winter, and high-tech barns where the fan speeds are set on thermostats and the barn walls work like curtains to rise or fall based on the temperature, keeping cows comfortable and conserving energy.
It also means renewable energy solutions that benefit the cows, the farm, and the land.
Renewable energy is all about making the most of what’s around, and for a dairy farm—that means cow manure. Lots and lots of cow manure. Blue Spruce Farm was the first farm in Vermont to install an anaerobic digester to extract reusable biogas from manure1. The digester looks a little bit like an in-ground swimming pool with a concrete cover. Instead of water, though, the digester is filled with 14 feet of manure. Gases collected at the top power generators that create enough energy to power over 300 homes, keeping tons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Manure liquids help fertilize fields, while odorless solids supplement cow bedding, saving money and preserving natural resources.
According to Marie, “we can’t even imagine a farm today that doesn’t have renewable energy.” Farmers are “not only feeding our communities, we’re providing ecosystem benefits.”
Like Blue Spruce Farm, Four Hills Farm in Bristol, VT, uses a bio-digester to convert manure into electricity, which helps manage manure and provides extra income.
To minimize their environmental impact and protect soil health, they use a “dragline” method that applies manure more evenly and consistently to reduce the risk of runoff, which is not only good for soil, but good for water systems as well. For their efforts, the farm won the Conservation Farmer of the Year award in 2015.
For Four Hills Farm—named for the four Hill siblings who purchased the original farm from their parents—farming is a way to ensure a bright future for their family. Brian Hill’s wife Chanin says “we want to make sure our kids want to come back—and that they have something promising to come back to.”
Here at Cabot, we’re proud to work for such amazing farmers, who are helping protect the future of farming, the future of our environment, and of course, the future of delicious, world-class cheddar for generations to come.