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These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: The New England Farmer Edition

Cabot Dairy Farmers Diversify and Offer Even More Farm-fresh Goodness

Cabot farm families work hard raising cows that produce the highest quality of milk possible, so that Cabot Creamery Co-operative can continue to craft the World’s Best Cheddar year in and year out. Along the way, many of them have diversified their businesses, showcasing a creative side that has borne some very fine artisanal products.

Take a look at the backstories of the 1,100 Cabot Co-operative farms and what they’re doing to provide consumers with even more farm-fresh goodness.

Thorncrest Farm: Creating Single Cow Origin Chocolates

Cows give milk, and fine chocolates are made with milk. That isn’t a far stretch, but what the Thorncrest Farm in Goshen, CT, does certainly is. In 1984, Kimberly Thorncrest was working in Ireland. She noticed that the little shop down the road was making pastries and chocolate desserts from fresh cream, butter and milk from a nearby farm. Her husband Clint joined her, and she took him to the pastry shop. It was then that they decided to use the milk from his cows to make artisanal chocolates.

What is unique about Thorncrest milk chocolates is that each flavor is produced from the milk of a different cow, or from certain combinations of cows. For example, a ratio of milk from cow Pearl (45%), Viola (30%) and Princess (25%) is combined with other pure ingredients to produce Hazelnut Coffee Praline — one of Thorncrest’s small-batch chocolates.

Freund’s Farm: Producing Sustainable, Biogradable Seed-starting Pots

With 10 acres of gardens and 15,000-cubic-feet of greenhouse space, brothers Matt and Ben Freund of Freund’s Farm in East Canaan, CT, must have nutrient-rich soil for the vegetables and plants they produce to supplement their dairy farm business.

These second-generation farmers have taken a cue from their father, Eugene, who started the farm in 1949. The elder Freund was always forward thinking when it came to technology and efficient nutrient management. Since 1997, the brothers’ farm is one of the few in the U.S. to continuously run a methane digester to compost cow manure. They use this weed/seed-free, nutrient-rich compost to mold CowPots. Farmers use the environmentally friendly pots to plant directly in the ground, giving back to the soil and reducing the nutrient load on their farms. Home gardeners benefit from the dissolvable pots that continually feed the plants, making them bigger and better.

Twin Mill Farm: Nourishing Your Body with Farm-to-Bottle Bath Products

Home is where the heart is, and that’s what made Blake Gendebien to give up his corporate job in Atlanta and relocate his family to Ogdensburg, NY. He purchased a farm next to his parents’ farm so that his three sons could know the simple pleasures — and rewards — of hard work. Together, the multi-generational family raises Hostein cows on Twin Mill Farms where their cows’ milk goes toward producing award-winning Cabot cheese.

Like other independent Cabot Co-op farmers, the Gendebiens understand that the dairy industry is changing, and that necessity is the mother of invention. Blake’s wife, Carmen, is a licensed esthetician, and the two opened a day spa in Canton, NY. The next step was to combine Blake’s expertise in farming with Carmen’s in skin care. The result was A Wholesome Glow, a series of luxury skin care products made from natural ingredients handcrafted and hand-packed on the farm.

Richardson Family Farm: Using Vermont’s Natural Resources

The Richardson family of Hartland, VT, has been farming the land for several generations — since the days of dairy farmer James Johnson Richardson in 1907. Nestled in the woodlands of central Vermont, the farm currently is run by brothers Scott and Reid Richardson and Gordon, their dad.

In addition to raising a herd of more than 100 registered Jersey cows that produce some of the state’s highest-quality milk, the Richardsons have ventured out into other enterprises to supplement their dairy business. They manage their woodlands for maple sugaring and operate a sugarhouse where they produce as many as 5,000 gallons of maple syrup a year. It takes a lot of time to maintain the trees and tap, boil, can and bottle maple syrup and still take care of their cows. That’s still not enough for the entrepreneurial Richardsons; they also make and sell split rail fencing.


Shy Brothers Farm: Making Handmade and Fresh Cheese

It’s twins times two at the farm owned by the Santos brothers in Westport Point, MA. The fraternal twin brothers, Norman and Arthur, and Kevin and Karl work together on their Shy Brothers Farm. Each has a preference: one likes milking, one likes making repairs, one likes the business end and the other likes making the cheese. And the cheese is really good — as many local chefs and restaurateurs will tell you.

The brothers make Hannahbells®, thimble-sized handmade cheeses with an edible rind and flavors that include Classic French, Lavender Bud, Rosemary and Shallot. Their Cloumage® is a creamy, fresh cheese that is so versatile that it adapts to both savory and sweet recipes. And their mozzarella — developed by the grandson of the man who supplied mozzarella to Frank Sinatra.

Cabot farmers work hard every day of every year. It’s their passion, and it shows in the award-winning, top-quality cheese — and artisanal products — that come from their cows.