A mission to make a better yogurt.
In 1983, Stonyfield co-founders and organic farming teachers, Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg, began their business with three objectives: to help local family farms survive, to protect the environment, and to help keep food and food production healthy through their nonprofit organic farming school. As a kind of side project, the partners put their seven cows to work making yogurt. Popularity of the yogurt soared unexpectedly and a star was born. Since then, Stonyfield has gone on to show the world that it’s possible to make a healthier yogurt (that’s delicious, always organic, and doesn’t harm the environment) while continuing to educate the next generation of dairy farmers.
Earlier this summer, our friends at Stonyfield invited our dairy merchant, Marissa, and cofounder, David, to visit one of their farms in Vermont. Situated on the southern end of Lake Champlain, Buttermilk Farm had recently been bought by twenty-something siblings Nate and Caroline and their partners Naomi and Ramsay. While studying at college together, Nate and Ramsay found part-time work on a dairy farm in Southern Vermont. After graduating, Nate and Caroline decided that they wanted to produce their own dairy milk, and bought their first herd of conventional cows in May 2014. They soon sold the conventional cattle and traded up to three organic herds, and today they ship directly and exclusively to Stonyfield. The partnership is structured in such a way that the farm is both set up for success long-term and operates sustainable methods under the expert guidance of Stonyfield’s technical assistants. Stonyfield’s commitment to encouraging young people to become dairy farmers (the current average age of a dairy farmer is 58) is epitomized by the establishment of their dairy school on Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Maine.
Situated on 384 acres of rolling green pastures dotted with red barns, Buttermilk is home to 110 cows that live in free stall barns, which means they can go from inside to outside as they please. During a tour of the farm, Caroline told us that her family’s day begins at 2 AM, every morning, when they bring in the cows for milking. The cows are milked eight at a time and each cow yields around 50–70 lbs. of milk per day. During Nate’s demonstration, he asked Marissa if she’d like to have a go. How could she pass up such an opportunity? After Marissa had finished, we sampled the milk fresh from the bucket. And it was delicious (if a tad warm); thick and creamy, like a milkshake. It’s no wonder that Stonyfield’s grass-fed organic yogurt always tastes so good!
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