Choiniere Family Farm
Guy and Beth Choiniere
Tucked away near Lake Champlain, Vermont, just a few miles from the Canadian border, you will find the Choiniere Family Farm. It’s owned and operated by Guy (pronounced “ghee”) and Beth Choiniere. In 1945, Guy’s grandfather purchased the farm and 40 cows and began milking. As years passed, Guy’s father became the second generation to operate the Choiniere Family Farm.
In 1964, the family purchased a second farm a mile down the road. The two farms are separated by only a mile, but the terrain is entirely different. The original farm is full of steep hills, making it ideal for grazing cattle. The second farm is more suitable for raising and harvesting all the feed for the cattle.
When Guy graduated from high school, he decided to continue the family tradition of farming. Soon after, he met Beth, and they married and had two children, Mathieu and Hannah.
Guy was introduced to organic farming by a neighboring farmer. Something his neighbor said struck a chord with Guy. Although organic was contrary to his methods of farming, Guy began attending meetings to learn about increasing soil health without commercial fertilizer and about caring for cows with herbs and alternative methods. He immediately began implementing these practices on his farm.
It took three years for the farm to transition to an organic dairy under the United States Department of Agriculture organic regulations. On July 1, 2005, the Choinieres shipped their first load of organic milk with Organic Valley/CROPP. Converting the farm to organic production gave Guy the financial opportunity to purchase the farm from his parents. Although his parents were a little unsure about switching to organic, they supported Guy wholeheartedly.
Along the way there were many tests, trials, triumphs and even losses. It was one of the hardest journeys the Choiniere family farm has ever embarked upon, but the most rewarding. Guy sums it up by stating, “Farming is all about instincts, talking care of your soil and knowing your animals. Instead of reading recommendations, I’m ‘reading’ my gut feeling. I wouldn’t change things for the world.”