Matt Freund and his brother Ben run Freund’s Farm, Inc. in East Canaan, Connecticut, and it’s a big operation where they do more than dairy farming. Matt’s wife Theresa runs Freund’s Farm Market and Bakery on the farm along with four full-time employees. They have ten acres of gardens and 15,000 cubic feet of greenhouse space. Theresa sells Cabot cheese, vegetables, plants, flowers, and all manner of baked goods. She has a commercial kitchen on the premises and caters events throughout the state. The Freunds’ milk about 270 cows and have six full-time employees.
Dairy farming has been in the family’s blood for several generations, Matt, Ben and their three other siblings were raised on the farm. Their parents were the original owners, and they purchased the farm shortly after World War II. Now Ben and Matt are partners. Three of Matt and Theresa’s children have returned to the farm full-time. The oldest, Amanda is in charge of feeding cows each morning and marketing their value added product-CowPots (keep reading for more about CowPots). Isaac is a trained diesel mechanic and takes the lead on maintaining the farm’s machinery and the annual crop planting and harvesting. The youngest of the 3rd generation, Rachel graduated from University of Vermont in 2014 where she was an active member of UVM’s dairy farm, CREAM (also a Cabot Cooperative Member Farm). She jumped back on to the family farm with both feet and has taken the lead in herd management. The family expects the farm to continue for generations to come.
The Freunds were focused on the environment and sustainable dairy farming practices long before it was cool. And they didn’t just think about it, they did something about it.
“Sustainability is four-fold for us; it involves economics, the environment, our animals, and our people.”
-Amanda Freund (Farmer Friday Blog)
Cow manure is a big headache for dairy farmers, and after eight years of study and trial and error development, the Freunds created their own special kind of alchemy. They turn cow manure into dollars. Matt is in charge of this unique business where they convert cow waste into a value added product called “CowPots,” and their remarkable business has been featured on Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery Channel, on CNN, and on numerous national and local television programs.
See Freund's Farm featured on Dirty Jobs, with Mike Rowe:
Simply put, the manure is collected and placed in a large tank called a methane digester. The methane gas is collected and burned as energy, and this reduces the farm’s carbon footprint. The liquid portion of the manure is separated and used as fertilizer for the crops. Then the remaining solid portion of the manure becomes weed-free compost full of wonderful nutrients for plants. The solid manure is formed into biodegradable pots made completely out of the solid manure, and it is then sold, nationally and internationally, as seed starter and transplant pots. Seeds are planted in each pot, the pots are planted in the ground, and the end result is a wonderful, healthy plant. The Freunds are the only company in America to do this, and they are blazing a trail showing the very best of American know-how, entrepreneurship, and sustainability practices for dairy farming.
In addition to the production of CowPots on the farm, they’ve installed 500+ solar panels, generating enough electricity to run the dairy farm. The Freunds were capturing solar energy before their solar panels though, with a greenhouse structure for their milking parlor and barn, allowing them to take advantage of natural lighting during the daytime and reducing use of propane for heating.
Meet the folks at Freund's Farm, courtesy of Must be the Milk:
Visit Us: CowPots