Jeremy and Jennie Russo own Southwind Farm, named for the direction the wind typically blows in their neck of the woods. They have 150 tillable acres, 100 milkers, and 85 young stock. Says Jeremy: "The soil in our river valley is remarkably rich, and we always get a strong crop. We grow corn and hay, and pumpkins on the side." Jeremy is a sixth-generation farmer, raised on Southwind farm. He began by renting from his grandfather in 1997, before he and Jennie purchased in 2006.
Jeremy and Jennie didn’t always expect to be dairy farmers and, in fact, after graduating from Cornell, Jeremy served as an aide to then-Senator Jeffords in Washington, D.C. He expected to follow a career in politics, but the call of the land was too strong and he returned to his roots. He says, “I’m glad I did. Jennie and I love the farm and raising our children here, and even my children love it in a kid kind of way.” Sophia, five, and two-year-old Elijah love the animals and are already showing signs of interest in dairy farming.
Like so many farm families, the Russos earn revenue outside of dairy farming in order to take the edge off of low milk prices. They grow and sell a crop of pumpkins on the side and, more recently, they started their own cheese-making business. Jeremy can produce five 15-pound wheels per day, and is already developing a client base. In fact, before starting the business, he studied cheese making with Doug and Deb Erb, another Cabot farm family in New Hampshire that also has a cheese-making business. Once the kids are a bit older, Jennie hopes to manage the operation full-time.
With all his other activities, Jeremy still finds time to be active in the town. He was a Pawlet selectman for several years, recently took over duties as Justice of the Peace, and spends much of his time reviewing challenges to land valuations. The Russos also have school groups and other visitors stop by regularly, and they open their barn to anybody who wants to learn a thing or two about dairy farming.
Watch Jeremy's interview with Must Be The Milk:
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