Green Pastures Award

Green Pastures Award-winning family is fixture in community

Green Pastures Award-winning family is fixture in community

When a dairy farm family has been in a community for three or four or five or even six, seven or eight generations like many of Maine’s dairy farm families, those families are not only deeply invested in their farm, but in their community. You’ll often see their names on school boards or boards of selectmen or the county’s soil and water conservation district. In choosing the Green Pastures Award winner each year, one of the criteria for the selection committee to consider is community involvement. (Other considerations are milking herd quality, efficiency on the farm, the quality of the farm’s forages and feed for its animals, that the farm is economically sound and sustainable, and that the farm’s practices have a positive impact on the environment.) This year’s Maine Green Pastures winner is deserving on all fronts, but the Hall family’s community involvement really goes above and beyond. Located in East Dixfield, Hall Farms is operated by Dick Hall and his sons Rodney and Randy (the farm’s eighth generation) with the help of other family members (including the ninth generation). Among the farm members are a county director of the Farm Service Agency, chief and captain of the local fire department, national YF director for the Farm Bureau, chair of the Board of Selectmen, President of the Maine Maple Association, and Vice President of the New England Belted Galloway Group. The family has always been involved in agricultural fairs around the state, showing cattle or pulling steers or often as part of the staff that organizes the fair. Randy is the president of the local Farmington Fair; while at Fryeburg Fair he is the beef cattle superintendent, his father Dick has been the pulling ring superintendent for 24 years, and for nearly 15 years Rodney (who is president of the Maine Maple Association) and his crew of volunteers have been working the sugar house on the fairgrounds, where visitors can see just how maple syrup is made as well as sample and/or purchase many different maple products from Hall Farms, including a fair favorite – maple cotton candy. “It’s a good way to sell part of our crop, and it’s something I like to do,” said Rodney of the sugar house. “We are trying to promote the maple industry. Even if they don’t buy our syrup here, they’re going to go home and buy someone’s maple syrup.” And they’ll know to buy the real thing. This was the first year, they offered a blind taste test to allow people to compare imitation maple syrup and real Maine maple syrup. “Some people had never tried the real thing,” he added. “They never realized there was a difference.” Now they know better. While fair season is becoming a distant memory for most, the Hall family is already looking to next year. Rodney meets with his volunteers right after Fryeburg is over, so everything is fresh in their minds and they can discuss how to improve or change things for the next year. The family has to schedule much of its farm work around the fairs, making sure the corn is all chopped before Farmington Fair, for example. Rodney drives back and forth to Fryeburg every day of the fair to take care of his milk cows but hires help for the milking and daily chores. Hall Farms is primarily a dairy farm and has been home to a herd of registered Holsteins since 1945, the family relies on several enterprises, each one supporting the others to keep the farm thriving. They manage a sugarbush of 7,500 taps that produce about 1,200...

Read More

Twin Brook is 2015 Green Pasture Award Winner

Twin Brook is 2015 Green Pasture Award Winner

Even before they took over full ownership of the family’s dairy farm – Twin Brook Dairy in West Minot – in 2010, brothers Aaron and Adam Trundy had made cow comfort a top priority. “The more comfortable they are, the better their milk production is and they’re happier,” Adam said.   Apparently they’ve been successful; their cows average 90 pounds of milk per cow per day – that’s a little more than 10 gallons of milk, and they have one of the top herds in the state. Cows live in spacious free stall barns with optimal ventilation, large stalls for the cows to lounge in, each filled deep with sand – it’s like lying on the beach. In another effort to improve cow comfort and health, the Trundys started milking the cows three times a day in 2013.     This year, they were recognized for their efforts with the New England Green Pastures Award for the state of Maine. Each year, one farm from each of the New England states is selected. These farms are chosen based on “pasture quality and forage management, production, herd/milk quality, financial stability and community involvement.” Aaron and Adam’s parents Maynard “Sonny” and Susan Trundy started the farm with just two milk cows in 1976. Over time, the herd was increased to 80-100 cows. After school, Adam stayed on the farm, while Aaron worked off the farm. Their father passed away in 2008, and Aaron returned to help Adam run the dairy operation. That fall saw the construction of the first heifer barn so that heifers and dry cows could be kept at the home farm rather than at another facility. The herd has continued to grow (currently at 150 milk cows) and so have the facilities with the new freestall barn in 2010 – the same year the brothers officially took over ownership of the operation and established Twinbrook Dairy LLC- and another heifer barn this year as the former one houses dry cows and younger milk cows now. Twinbrook belongs to the Agri-Mark Coop (Cabot), and the milk is shipped to HP Hood in Portland. The Trundys have successively won milk quality awards in the past several years, and the farm has a handful of cows that receive top production honors from DairyOne, the regional dairy herd improvement organization, each year. The farm is operated by a crew of four in addition to the two brothers, and their mother Susan does the books. Adam also serves off the farm on the county Farm Service Agency committee. Some additional photos from around the farm:        ...

Read More

Silver Valley Farm selected as Green Pastures Award Winner

Silver Valley Farm selected as Green Pastures Award Winner

Each year, one farm from each of the New England States is selected as a Green Pastures Award Winner. These farms are chosen based on” pasture quality and forage management, production, herd/milk quality, financial stability and community involvement.” Basically, it’s because they care – they care about the land and dairy farming and their animals and their community. And they work hard. Well, all dairy farmer’s work hard, but these are the over achievers. They’re out there analyzing, scrutinizing, experimenting, researching, always looking how for ways to improve their practices. They take time for extracurricular activities also, being actively involved in their community. Silver Valley Farm  was started in the 1940’s by George and Clara Davis in New Sharon, but it’s original focus wasn’t just dairy. They grew crops, including corn, beans and cukes, and George had a herd of herd of award-winning show Herefords, which are a beef cattle breed. He eventually sold the beef cattle and switched to dairy, bringing in mostly registered Holsteins. George and Clara’s son Richard and his wife Cathy Davis took over ownership of the farm in the 1960s. They won the Green Pastures award in 1974. Under their care, the Silver Shade Holsteins were well-known and highly regarded in the show and sale rings. Sons Rick and Jim took over the day to day operations of the farm in 1985 and still operate Silver Valley Farm today. Their wives Carol and Carol both work off the farm in nursing and home health careers.  The next generation is moving into their own important roles on the farm. Rick’s son, Richard III, does his part managing the crops and mechanics of the operation. Rick also has a daughter – Angie, and between her and her brother, there are three grandchildren who can often be found on the farm. Jim Davis has four children – Jim R, Jeff, Matt and Kristen. Jim R milks a few times a month with the help of his three children – Samantha, James and Sophia. Jeff helps manage the cows and breeding along with assisting at the fairs. Matt is currently working in Park City, Utah. Kristen is a junior in high school and very busy with soccer and 4-H. Silver Valley Farm has recently hired Kyle Gammon fulltime and he is a great addition to the farm. All the children have worked in the past, are working now, and/or plan to be there in the future of the farm. Silver Valley Farm transitioned to organic in 2005 and started shipping milk to Horizon Organic in 2007. They grow 30-40 acres of organic corn each year for silage and rotate to new ground every two or three years. The farm owns 350+ acres and uses 125 more. They grow their own feed and are able to sell some. Silver Valley Farm has won the forage contest at Maine Farm Days for their excellent forage. Silver Valley Farm has always worked to improve the genetics of their herd.  There is a new movement in dairy cow breeding – polled cows, meaning they do not grow horns. Silver Valley has been using some polled genetics for a few years and now have a number of polled females and several other cattle that were bred to polled bulls. Silver Valley Farm has become so well-known for its quality of dairy cows that their bulls have been used in artificial insemination programs for years, and they are a valuable source of top-quality replacement heifers for other organic dairies. While the majority of their herd is Holstein, the Davis family also has some Brown Swiss that...

Read More

Benson Farm receives 2013 Green Pastures Award

Benson Farm receives 2013 Green Pastures Award

      The Benson Farm has established a legacy – one of top quality Holsteins, a professional operation and a commitment to stewardship. And as the farm is handed from one generation to the next, that legacy has not only been continued but built upon. For that reason and many more, the Gorham dairy farm was selected as this year’s New England Green Pastures Award. The award is given every year to an outstanding dairy farm for each of the New England states. This coveted award is presented annually at the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) in September to an exemplary, economically sound, and efficiently managed dairy operation, representative of the best farms in New England. Nominees are evaluated on a number of criteria including their production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying. This is the second time the Benson Farm has received the award, having also been honored in 1967. The Benson Farm is a third generation dairy operation owned by Katherine Y. Benson and her son and daughter-in-law Edward and Rebekah. Edward Young started the farm in 1918 and began to acquire one of Maine’s early herds of purebred registered Holsteins. His daughter, Katherine Young, and her husband, Alton, later took over the farm with a commitment to purebred Holsteins and land conservation.  Eddie and Becki are the current operators of the farm and continue in the innovative spirit of their predecessors. One of the farm favorites, Kay-Ben Goldwyn Dolly, was the 2012 winner of the Supreme Champion award at the Fryeburg Fair, and overall, the farm boasts 74 registered Holsteins with 25 Excellent cows. Registered dairy cows are classified with scores ranging from 1-100. A score of 90 or better classifies a cow as “Excellent”. Cows are scored based on the following criteria: front end and capacity, dairy strength, rump, feet and legs and udder. Udder is obviously the most important in a dairy cow, and therefore is worth 40 points.  Also among the Benson Farm’s accomplishments are structural and business improvements to the operation. In the early 1990’s, Eddie began making compost to diversify the business and offset the cost of small-scale dairy farming. The facility was approved by DEP to accept seafood waste from Maine’s working waterfronts. The compost was also certified by MOFGA for use on organic crops. A 2010 tornado demolished the farm’s iconic barn, a structure from the early 1900s, which housed calves, dry cows and most of the hay supply. The catastrophe led the family to build three new barns: a 60×100’ dry cow and bred heifer facility, a calf nursery, and an indoor compost bagging facility. The farm is a member of the Cumberland Country Farm Bureau, the New England Holstein Association and is a supporter of the Cumberland County All-Star Dairy, Stroudwater Christian Church and Young Life. The Green Pastures program is sponsored by the New England Green Pastures Committee and Cooperative Extension at each of the New England Land Grant Universities.  ...

Read More

Gold Top Farm is the 2012 Green Pastures Winner

Gold Top Farm is the 2012 Green Pastures Winner

Gold Top Farm in Knox, Maine is the 2012 Green Pastures winner for Maine. This farm has been one of the premier Maine farms for generations.  The farm is currently owned and operated by John W. Ingraham & Sons.  Gold Top has raised registered holsteins since 1932.  The original farm of one hundred and fifty acres was purchased by George and Betsy Ingraham in 1876;  this parcel of land was purchased from General Henry Knox who was given the land for payment of services in the revolutionary war from 1775 to 1783. Today, the farm is owned by John and Beverly Ingraham, Michael and Jackie Ingraham and Gregory and Shirley Ingraham.  Michael, Jackie, Gregg and Shirley do the day to day management of the farm along with 11 year round employees as well as part-time and seasonal employees.  At the present time, Gold Top has a milking herd that averages n 425 milking cows as well as 400 replacement heifers and calves. The current milking barn holds 450 milking cows.  It features a slatted floor for manure collection beneath the slats that are moved to a large lagoon below the barn.   Cows are fed a total mixed ration that includes long hay.  The milking barn is computerized and has a double twelve parallel parlor with milk meters.  All cow data is fed electronically to the computer during each milking.  Herd production is 21,681 lbs milk per cow 863 lbs fat. Cows are calved in the old barn across the street and milked there until ready to enter the milking herd. Calving pen is monitored by surveillance camera.  Calves are raised in group pens.  Calves are raised in a series of group housing pens in a large airy barn. Close to 100 heifers are pastured each year. Forage is produced by the Ingraham to feed their large herd with 420 acres of corn silage and 600 acres of grass raised for silage and hay.  Soybeans have been raised on the farm as a protein source for the past six years. Equipment maintenance is done in their large well equipped machinery shop; large equipment can be brought into the heated facility for work during the winter. The Ingrahams have been involved with the agricultural community for generations.  John Ingraham has been very active in the agricultural community especially with the State Grange and local Freedom Grange.  John has served as a director for Eastern States Exposition, was co-founder of the Waldo County Quality Dairy Sales, served as selectman for the Town of Knox and was SAD3 School Board Director.  Beverly also is very active with grange activities and served as a willing supporter of the many activities of the farm.  Michael has served as board member for the Farm Service Agency and also as Selectman for the town of Knox.  Jackie served as supervisor for the Soil and Water Conservation District for several years as well as a School Board member for 9 years.  Jackie and Mike served as 4-H leaders for several...

Read More

Maine’s 2011 Green Pasture Award Farm

Maine’s 2011 Green Pasture Award Farm

The Hardy Farm The 2011 Green Pasture Award wining dairy farm located in Farmington, Maine, is a family operated, diversified, organic dairy farm. Pictured above accepting their award are from left to right Henry Hardy, Teresa Hardy, Deputy Commissioner of Maine Agriculture, Food & Rural Resources, Caldwell Jackson presenting the Award and Marjorie Hardy. Teresa and Henry have two other children not pictured a son Andrew Hardy, and another daughter Ashlie Hardy, as well as a daughter-in-law, Ashley. Maine’s Green Pasture Award is given each year at the Big E. The Green Pasture award is given yearly to an outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states....

Read More