C'mon organic dairy farmers!

In the picture above, you may see a pile of dirt and an overgrown field, but we see the future of dairy farming in New England.

Since June of 2013, we’ve been investigating various opportunities (http://www.stonyfield.com/blog/organic-close-to-home-update/) for growing organic dairy production in the Northeast. We’re pleased to announce that over the summer, we partnered with Wolfe’s Neck Farm (http://wolfesneckfarm.org/organic-dairy-farmer-research-training-program/) to begin planning a new Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program to help in this mission. The Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program aims to revitalize and strengthen the organic dairy industry in Maine and New England while ushering in the next generation of organic dairy farmers.

“This program has the potential to jumpstart the next generation of organic dairy farmers in New England,” said Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield’s Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture. “We’re designing the program to address the unique challenges faced by dairy farmers in our region by giving qualified young farmers the tools they need to succeed when starting up their own organic dairy.” That’s because while dairy farming is hard, dairy farming in New England can be even harder.

The program will also involve a research element. “Our goal is to build a viable and sustainable organic dairy model at Wolfe’s Neck Farm that will be used for two purposes – training the next generation of organic dairy farmers and conducting forage and pasture-based research to advance organic dairy farming across the region,” says Wolfe’s Neck Farm Executive Director, Dave Herring.

The training program’s Board of Directors met recently for the program’s kick-off meeting, and the project is now officially underway. The first farmer trainees are expected to start in 2015 and complete their training in 2016. Soon, the pile of dirt pictured will be the site of the program’s milking parlor, and the overgrown field will be populated with happily grazing organic cows.

Working with Wolfe’s Neck Farm helping to train the next generation of New England dairy farmers is just one way we’re staying true to our commitment to changing the way we think about, make, and eat food in America. But we can’t do it alone.

If you’re interested in becoming a trainee, keep an eye on Wolfe’s Neck Farm’s website (http://wolfesneckfarm.org) for information on how to apply. If you’re already an organic dairy farmer and would like to be involved in teaching the next generation, take a look at the Organic Dairy Program Director (http://wolfesneckfarm.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/employment-wolfes-neck-farm-organic-dairy-program-director.pdf) position to see if you’d like to throw your hat in the ring.