22 September 2013, by gj
Hi y’all. I recently heard this story and loved it, I think you will too:
Thanks for having me on your blog Gardening Jones to share the big news in my life. For 35+ years, my husband Dennis and I have taken an increasing role in the dairy farm he grew up on in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, one his father purchased from his grandfather who bought it in the early part of the 20th century.
In the 1990’s, we bought the farm from Dennis’s father and have been running it along with our oldest son, Cory, and one hired hand. Eleven years ago, Cory married his wife, Charity, who is quite active on the farm. They have three children, Ian (9 yrs), Emma (6 yrs), and Owen (4 yrs).
All the children love country life. Cory and Charity live up the road from the home farm on a second farm that’s been in the family for several decades. The two farms are tied together as Cory and Charity’s place is where the bulk of the cropland lies, while the dairy and milk cows are here. Our grandchildren make five generations on the farm and are eager to carry on, as are we for them to have that opportunity.
Small family farms are in danger of going under and many have been gobbled up by development or succumbed to the large factory farms that no one wants to see encompass agriculture, but sadly, often does. We needed to find a way to preserve our land and our unique lifestyle, not only for now, but for generations to come.
Last June (2012) a neighboring farmer called Dennis to explore an idea for starting a creamery to process our own natural, locally produced dairy products. From that initial discussion and first small meeting, our excitement grew and spread to other farmers. But we couldn’t have reached the point where we are now without the generous guidance of local businessmen, lawyers, an accountant, and the realtor who helped us purchase a dairy processing plant, and others who share our enthusiasm to take control of our dairy products and market them to a public appreciative of knowing where their milk comes from. With the assistance of these experts and umpteen planning sessions, we banded together with 20 other farmers in the valley to form Shenandoah Family Farms Cooperative, farmer owned and farmer operated.
Our milk will remain within a 250 mile radius of the creamery we purchased in Hagerstown, MD, about a two hour drive from the Shenandoah Valley, however, that encompasses a much broader area than you might think. If we are successful enough, our ice cream could go National, as it’s a frozen product. We will produce fluid milk and ice cream first and add more dairy products as we go. Many of the families in our cooperative are conservative or Old Order Mennonites, hardworking people who value their land, way of life, and animals. We want to pass this heritage onto our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Our youngest daughter Elise, an art major graduate, takes many of the photographs for this venture. I’ve included some of our farm. Our older daughter, Alison Trost, is married and lives up the road with her husband, Diron, and their two children, Colin (6 yrs) and Chloe (3 yrs), who love to visit the farm. I’m also an author and a gardener, although allergies make that challenging during ragweed season—thus more indoor writing time. – Beth
I just love the idea of everyday people and small farms getting together to provide healthy food for us, rather than big-time agriculture that seems to only care about money and not quality.
If you feel the same way, take a minute to give them a Like on Facebook and leave a comment.
You can also visit their website and sign the friendly “Product Request Petition”. And please tell your friends and relations. Help spread the word and take back control of our food sources.