There’s a whole lot more to organic yogurt than pasture raised cows and the organic grasses they feed on. Those are big pieces of the organic puzzle, but people, specifically farmers, provide the framework, and they are our most valued partners.
The food landscape is always changing, and we constantly ask ourselves, how can we best continue to ensure the health and future viability of small family farms?
In our 35+ years of experience in organic food, we’ve found that working closely with the farmers themselves has created the culture of trust, friendship, and dedication to high quality organic farming that helps us all thrive.
New friends at Green Valley Organic
Meet Kate Patenaude, a third generation farmer, whose Vermont farm recently joined Stonyfield Organic’s Direct Milk Supply Program. Kate, her brother and dad Ronald are the dedicated farmers of Green Valley Organic, and one of our newest Direct Milk Supply partners.
“It’s a beautiful place and a great farm. We call it Green Valley Organic because, well, it’s a beautiful green valley.” -Ronald Patenaude
Ron grew up on Green Valley, which he eventually bought from his father to become a third generation farmer. Unfortunately, after a few decades of conventional farming, the farm wasn’t seeing the success it once had, and the Patenaudes decided to lease out their land. But in 2016 Ron saw an opportunity to return their land and family to the tradition of farming. He decided to go organic for the price stability and has been supplying Stonyfield Organic since May of that year. As Kate puts it, ‘farming is in our blood’, and it means alot to her to be reconnected to the land.
“It makes me proud that my kids will be 4th generation on this farm.” -Ronald Patenaude
From the heart
“You can’t just want to be an organic dairy farmer to make money. Besides the fact that it’s hard work, and I mean really hard work, you have to love the animals. And it has to come from the heart.” - Kate Patenaude
When the new herd arrived at Green Valley Organic, they were without names. That didn’t last long. Kate set about assigning one to each. Her only rule was, they had to actually look like name they were given. To Kate each cow has its own set of quirks and its very own personality, so it was easy for her to find 95 different ones. Dixie, her favorite, is the only Swiss but also, according to Kate, has a bit of an attitude, hence the name, and the reason why Kate likes her best.
“Just knowing that if my Dad were still here, how proud he would be of his grandchildren. That’s the part that gives me a great feeling.” -Ronald Patenaude
Like the Patenaudes, the cows are hard workers. Their typical day starts in the evening when they head out to pasture for a night of grazing. As Kate explains, in the summer heat, it’s cooler and more comfortable for them after the sun sets. At 4:30AM, they come back to the barn for milking, a bit of a rest, more milking and then back out to pasture to start the process all over again.
“I have a passion for farming and agriculture, and want to continue this tradition that my grandfather and father have built up for me.” -Kate Patenaude