On Cabot farms around New England and New York, these past few weeks have been anchored by reassuringly familiar rhythms. Our farmers are caring for their cows, their families, and their employees. They continue to produce the highest quality milk, which is being picked up by milk trucks and taken to our production plants to be made into the Cabot cheese, yogurt, butter, and other products that then make their way to grocery store shelves near you.
But, of course, dairy farmers are also part of the wider world.Cabot farmers are still doing what they do best: caring for their cows and producing the highest quality milk to turn into cheese and other dairy deliciousness for you and your families. Click To Tweet
“It’s been a weird mix of unnerving, but also extremely calming, that our day-to-day has not changed very much,” acknowledges Amanda Freund of Freund’s Farm in East Canaan, Connecticut. The Freunds not only run their third-generation dairy farm, they also have a busy farm market and bakery, and produce award-winning, biodegradable, seed-starting CowPots from recycled dry solids of composted manure.
Amanda’s mother, Theresa, has been making sure the market is stocked with staples as well as cooking up vats of shepherd’s pie, macaroni and cheese and meatballs for curbside pickup. Amanda’s sister, Rachel, helps with the market and has also been focused on seeding and transplanting in the greenhouse. Amanda and her father, Matt, in turn, have been responding to the significant demand for CowPots as more people aim to grow food for themselves.
The Freunds are grateful for the unexpected gift of family dinners with parents and all four 20- and 30-something “kids” around the same table. They also deeply appreciate that they can play a role in the food system in a number of ways—and recognize that they could not do it alone. From grain and vet supply deliveries, to the milk truck driver and the robotic milking machine technician, to the workers in Cabot plants, Amanda says, “I have never been so acutely aware of how many people and companies we rely on. We are overwhelmed with appreciation for them all.”
In Schodack Landing, New York, Nate Chittenden of Dutch Hollow Farm couldn’t agree more. “It’s putting a fresh perspective on all the people who do the kinds of jobs we sometimes don’t think that much about: farmworkers, truck drivers, the people in retail and in restaurants,” he says. “None of us can be replaced. Everyone is critical.”
Nate and his team continue to care for the farm’s milking herd while he and his wife also adjust to 24/7 parenting duty for their own smaller brood of three kids. Jill Chittenden, a high school math teacher, is one of millions of teachers now engaged in the significant task of instructing their students long-distance from home. Luckily, Anna, 8, Jonathan, 10, and Zach, 13, “have a humongous outdoor playground,” their dad says. “They can come with me to the farm, which gives their mom a quiet house for meetings and work.” Like all siblings, they have their moments, but Nate adds proudly, “They’ve done a pretty good job of pulling together.”
For 21-year-old Lilla Tilton-Flood, who grew up on Flood Brothers Farm in Clinton, Maine, her senior year at the University of Maine is a little different than she expected. Her mom, Jenni Tilton-Flood, recounts that Lilla will finish her coursework online, but is back in Orono working with the herd at the university’s teaching and research Witter Farm, also a Cabot coop member. “The animals cannot remote-work,” Jenni notes with a chuckle. “They cannot mail it in.”
Back at Flood Brothers, Jenni’s husband, Dana, and the rest of the team are working as hard as usual to keep the farm chugging along. “They’re taking care of the cows, making sure everything is as high quality and sanitary as they always do,” says Jenni. “We are here to ensure there is always good food for people.”
Jenni has also appreciated that she has a bit more time to help out in the community. “I helped pack 860 meals for seniors in our local Meals on Wheels program. It really made me smile for the first time in a while. Nobody is an island. As socially distanced as we are, we are not alone,” she says. “Being able to help my neighbors this way, or helping them find milk—we aren’t just feeding people, we truly are nourishing our community. I hope that when we look back on this, that is what we remember.”
A Message to Our Communities
Our farmers are dedicated to making sure those on the front lines have nutritional support – turning April as National Volunteer Month into a time to support workers saving our lives. All month long, we invite ER nurses, EMTs, and all front-line health workers to register for a shipment of our individually wrapped 3/4 oz. snack bars and snack sticks. We’ll continue to ship until we run out.