Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Organic Transition" ... an article ...

Every once in a while I check out the articles and forums at just to see what is going on. You may remember I posted a link to an article a few weeks ago about a beginning dairy farmer who was getting out of the business because he just couldn't make it financially.

Yesterday I came across another article about a dairy farmer on the site that dealt with his switch from a conventional dairy to an organic dairy. You can check out the article, "CASE STUDY: Transitioning to organic : Spring Brook Farm", but clicking on the title.

The farmer in this article is not new to dairy farming. In fact while he didn't grow up on a dairy farm he has been working no them since he was young. An interesting thing is that he went bankrupt on his first dairy attempt, but he stuck with it because as he says, "it is in his blood." The article deals mainly with his transition from a conventional dairy (medications, corn silage, etc.) to an organic dairy that sells milk through an organic dairy cooperative. Most of his milk goes to Stonyfield (no relation to our farm) for their yogurt.

After my post yesterday about the frustrations of trying to go against conventional wisdom this article was a breath of fresh air. He was able to make the transition with out too much trouble, and he is finding there is much more value in farming organically. He finds value in the way he is able to raise his cows, how he treats the land, and through the checks he receives for his milk. Basically, organic was a stretch for him ... it is something that looked good and is now working even better than it looks.

Here are a few quotes from the article that really hit home to me:

“I started out when I was 24 lost everything when I was in my forties, and started all over again with nothing when I was 44. I could go manage a farm for somebody else, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do. Independence is a fierce part of it. I gotta do my own thing.”

“When I was a kid, and people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always knew. I was driven,” Lyle says. “Things haven’t all been rosy. There have been a few detours, but I’ve stuck with it."

“I really don’t know why more farmers don’t go organic,” Lyle says, “especially small farmers who pasture. If you’re set up for pasture and you’ve got 50 to 100 cows, it makes more sense.”

You see, it can be done ... and in some ways if you are farming on a small scale you can do it better than the conventional farmers. Oh, the "it" I'm talking about ... I'm talking about supporting your family through the farm work and living and working together as a family.

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