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 are rated highly.
The Davis family ships its milk to Horizon Organic. In 2013, Silver Valley Farm received an honorable mention for the HOPE Award from Horizon Organic; this award is given out to those who advocate for organic agriculture with the winner selected from over 600 Horizon producers nationwide.
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY UNIVERSITY OF MAINE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION