NEWPORT, Vt. — On Saturday, June 22nd, more than 1,000 visitors flocked to Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The Newport dairy farm was packed as guests enjoyed a Vermont-inspired pancake breakfast and took a self-guided tour of the 1,000 cow dairy farm. In its fifth year, Vermont Breakfast on the Farm aims to connect the public with hard-working dairy farming families like the Maxwell’s – who produce wholesome dairy, care for their cows, and protect and maintain the working-landscapes of Vermont.
“Vermont’s dairy farming community plays an important part of the state’s economy and heritage; and is closely tied to the rich histories and traditions of Vermont,” explained Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts. “Events like Breakfast on the Farm are critical to connecting our hard-working dairy farmers with their communities and the state, and to highlight the good work they do every day to produce food for our tables and care for our shared environment.”
Fourteen educational stations throughout the farm tour helped visitors to learn about daily life on the farm. Those stations included a look at sustainable technologies and practices including the Maxwell’s methane digester which utilizes cow manure, capturing methane gas, turning it into renewable electricity to power the farm and surround homes. Guests also saw how farmers safeguard local waters like Lake Memphremagog through the use of protective cover crops; and toured the Maxwell’s free-stall-barns where cows have 24-7 access to fresh food, water and comfortable beds.
Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm was founded in 1957 by Maurice and Lois Maxwell. They raised four sons on the farm: Brad, Stewart, Anthony, and Jeffery. All four brothers chose careers on the farm alongside their parents. Their family farming tradition continued when their grandchildren, Matt Maxwell and Darik LeBlanc, 3rd generation farmers – joined them on the farm. The 4thgeneration – the great grandkids of Maurice and Lois are now growing up on the family farm as well.
“The fact that four generations get to be on this farm working together, caring for our cows and land each day – that’s a special thing,” said third generation dairy farmer Matt Maxwell. “I’m proud to be a Vermont dairy farmer, to be producing a nutritious food for my community, state, and region. And I’m honored to see all of these people who came out today to get a glimpse into what we do.”
The Maxwell farm now milks nearly a thousand cows and spans 2,000 acres of corn and hay. The farm is also well known for growing vegetables (Maxwell’s Neighborhood Greens) for local schools and businesses in a greenhouse, warmed by excess heat generated by their methane digester.
More than 100 volunteers from across Vermont, many with experience in the dairy industry, joined the Maxwell family and their employees to help answer visitor questions about modern dairy farming.
Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm hosted the first Vermont Breakfast on the Farm event of 2019, and the first ever in the Northeast Kingdom. Now in it’s fifth year, a second breakfast and farm tour will be hosted July 27th at the Sprague Ranch in Brookfield. Tickets are available at www.VermontBreakfastOnTheFarm.com.
–New England Dairy Promotion Board
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