Mark and Tamma Duffy don't run your standard spread, and they didn't come to dairy farming by the beaten path. Mark and Tamma are first generation farmers. Their daughter Marlow, a recent graduate of the University of Vermont, is working the farm with them, so they are now moving into the second generation. Their two younger sons, Christopher and Blake, seem to have caught the dairy-farming bug as well and help out as much as possible.
The Duffys' farm sits 22 miles outside of Boston. They don't own a single inch of land; instead, they have a long-term lease with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and who would have thought their farm is in a state park? And that makes for a unique experience. Mark and Tamma were selected by the State more than twenty years ago to upgrade an abandoned farm that sat vacant for 14 years, and it's no surprise they have no plans to leave any time soon. The Duffy's manage 300 acres of land, have 140 cows, and see over 100,000 visitors at the farm each year. The State gives guided tours of the farm. It's not unusual to have fifty or more spectators observing the cows being milked, the hay being mowed or the corn being chopped. As Mark states: "This is a full time dairy farm with the same long hours and the same problems farmers face everywhere. For us, bringing awareness of dairy farming to the broader community is a big part of what we do. We have tours five days a week, and we think the more people know about dairy farming, the better off every farmer will be."
See Mark's interview with NECN's Billy Costa:
Like so many other farm families, the Duffys do whatever it takes to make the farm succeed. They run a retail farm stand for the visitors, raise cranberries for resale, plow town roads in the winter, and sell composted cow manure. Says Mark: "During times like now when milk prices are so low, most farmers have to find other ways to get revenue. The good thing is that many people want to buy local products, and they support our work as much as they can."
Mark takes his love of dairy farming to many places beyond his spread. He sat on the Governor's Task Force for dairy farming and works with the state legislature to find ways to keep dairy farming strong in Massachusetts. He is a member of the Regional Milk Promotion Board and a member of Agri-Mark's Board of Directors, representing farmers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Mark and Tamma's response: "We love dairy farming, and we have to do everything we can to promote it."
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