For my Delicate Balance Project, I organized a Raw Milk Dairy Day in Vermont on Saturday, October 27, 2012, where I asked farmers from raw milk dairy farms across the state to open up their farms to visitors on that day. The ten Vermont farms that participated in the event were: Cerridwen Farm (Poultney), Earthwise Farm (Bethel), Hazen Monument Farm (East Hardwick), Hollister Hill Farm (Marshfield), Jersey Girls Dairy (Chester), New Village Farm (Shelburne), Taylor Farm (Londonderry), Trevin Farms (Sudbury), Wayward Goose Farm (West Pawlet), and Windy Corners Farm (Charlotte). The farmers provided tours of their farms, answered questions, invited visitors to interact with the animals, and encouraged visitors to watch a milking. The visitors learned about producing raw milk while connecting with their local farmers.
I informed the public about the event through newspaper articles in the Rutland Herald and the Burlington Free Press, Facebook posts, and a flyer. I made the flyer which had a map of the farm locations as well as a paragraph about each farm describing the farm type as well what the farmers were offering for the event that day. The flyer was posted on Vermont tourism and town websites (Vermont Chamber of Commerce, Central Vermont Events & Meetings, and Chester Vermont), on farming websites (Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Rural Vermont, Dig In Vermont, Vermont Fresh Network, and American Micro Dairies), and in co-ops (The Co-op Food Stores).
As the Dairy Manager at Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm, I welcomed four groups of visitors to the farm during the Raw Milk Dairy Day. I provided tours of the farm which included visiting the animals, discussed how students hand-milk Artichoke (a Milking Shorthorn cow) twice a day, described to visitors how they can purchase raw milk on the farm, and explained the laws in Vermont in regards to raw milk sales.
For the research component of the project, I first illustrated how there are multiple economic, social, and environmental benefits garnered from fostering close farmer-consumer relationships. Many consumers get to know their dairy farmers quite well when they purchase local raw milk and the demand for raw milk is increasing. I then showed how stricter raw milk laws will ensure cleaner, healthier milk and ultimately, allow for greater access to raw milk to meet the growing demand.
One of my hopes for this project is that is will become an annual event, not just in Vermont but in other states as well. If this is to be maintained into the future, I think getting the farms to participate in the event once again as well as getting more farms to also join will be important. Additionally, more advertizing starting at an earlier time (not just two weeks before the event) will be imperative to help get the word out to the public so that more people will come visit the farms. I have been in contact with Rural Vermont with my feedback on the event with the goal that this will become an annual Rural Vermont or NOFA-VT sponsored event. Also, I have been in contact with the President of the Oregon Raw Milk Producers Association, helping her to craft a Raw Milk Dairy Day in her state. Hopefully, more states will want to host an event like this in their own respective states.