BRIDPORT, Vt. — On Saturday, more than 1,000 attended Vermont Breakfast on the Farm hosted by the Audet family of Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport. The free, public event included a pancake breakfast and self-guided tour of the dairy farm. Visitors experienced a taste of the life and business of dairy in the Green Mountain State — home to over 850 dairy farms that make 63 percent of the milk for New England, according to USDA data.
“Breakfast on the Farm is one way we can help ensure future generations of Vermonters maintain a connection to the land and an appreciation for the importance of agriculture in our state,” said Anson Tebbetts, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture. “Agriculture lives at the core of our culture and economy. Vermont continues to be a national leader thanks to its unwavering commitment to quality, integrity and sustainability.”
Educational stations throughout the farm tour enabled visitors to learn about daily life on the farm. They included sustainable technologies and practices, including the Audet’s methane digester used to convert cow manure into renewable energy. Attendees also saw farm equipment, learned about how farmers protect our waters through the use of protective cover crops, and toured the barns where cows have constant access to food, water and comfortable beds. They also learned about how calves are raised and had the chance to see a calf being born.
Blue Spruce Farm was purchased by Norman and Mary-Rose Audet in 1958. Over the next several years the family grew, and so did the farm. A devastating fire in the 1970s meant the loss of their barn and newly built milking system. Their herd of 80 cows was saved, and so was the family’s resolve to come back even stronger. Now served by three generations, the farm milks 1,500 cows twice a day in a state-of-the-art milking parlor. Blue Spruce Farm sends 110,000 pounds of milk each day to the Cabot Creamery Cooperative, where the farm’s milk is made into approximately 11,000 pounds of cheese each day.
“What comes to mind when you hear the word farm? For many its animals, tractors or food. Realistically farming is so much more. It’s about life, love, family, community and hard work,” said Marie Audet. “Breakfast on the Farm is a great opportunity for young and old alike to see and experience in an intimate way, our commitment to protecting the environment and our dedication to the health and comfort of our cows. And based on the great crowd we had for Breakfast on the Farm, visiting a dairy farm in Vermont is also about having fun.”
Blue Spruce Farm was the first farm in Vermont to install a Cow Power bio-digester, naturally processing all the manure from the farm and using the methane gas to power a generator which produces renewable electricity. It creates enough energy to power 400-plus homes. The farm also hosts a Vermont made “Northern Power Wind Turbine” to increase their renewable energy portfolio. The family has been recognized nationally by the Innovation Center for US Dairy for “Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability” and received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.
More than 100 volunteers from the community, many with experience in the dairy industry, joined Blue Spruce Farm staff and helped answer visitors’ questions about farming practices.
Blue Spruce Farm hosted the second of two Breakfast on the Farm events in 2017. Fairmont Farm in East Montpelier, winners of the Green Pasture Program’s “2017 Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year,” also hosted more than 1,000 visitors for breakfast and a farm tour in June.
Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is made possible by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets and the agricultural business community. Major sponsors include Bourdeau Brothers, Cabot Creamery Co-operative, Casella Waste Systems, High Mowing Organic Seeds, New England Dairy Promotion Board, Poulin Grain, Vermont Farm Bureau, Vermont Feed Dealers & Manufacturers Association, Vermont Smoke & Cure and WOKO.
For more information, visit www.VermontBreakfastonTheFarm.com.
— Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets