Faces of Dairy: Conversations with Vermont Farmers

A Dairy Panel Event
Moderated by renowned Agronomist Heather Darby
11am-2pm, the Dairy Center, Enosburg Falls
Free & open to the public
Lunch provided

Join us for insightful stories and dynamic conversation as we honor the voices of Vermont’s dairy farming community. This panel event features farmers from across Franklin County and beyond, spanning the spectrum of scale, practices, and markets to discuss their experiences and perspectives, along with hopes and ideas for the future.  From large-scale conventional operations shipping milk, to single herd value-added processors, to small organic and raw producers, the dairy industry has long been a quintessential backbone of Vermont agriculture. We celebrate the resiliency and innovation this diverse community has to offer.

There will be time for audience participation and dialogue with and between the panelists. We invite farmers and eaters alike to join us for this unique opportunity to hear from and engage with our farmer neighbors, to find common ground in a diverse and changing industry, and to mutually support one another as we move towards the future.   

Our panel proudly features:

Damien Boomhower, Bitter Sweet Valley Farm, Fairfield
Amber Machia, Red Barn Butter, Highgate Center
Larry Gervais, Gervais Family Farm, Enosburg Falls
Aubrey Schatz, Family Cow Farmstand, Hinesburg
George van Vlaanderen, Does’ Leap Farm, East Fairfield
Marita Canedo of Migrant Justice, representing the Milk With Dignity Program

About our Panelists:

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Amber Machia - Red Barn Butter - Highgate

Amber grew up in Westford and working on a Fairfax dairy farm was one of her first summer jobs.  During college, she purchased her first cow, a favorite from a farm that she had worked on, and established the foundation for her small herd of registered Guernseys.  She graduated from UVM in 2006 with a degree in Dairy Science after completing the student run dairy program, UVM CREAM, and the Dairy Management Program at Miner Institute, knowing that her future was in the Vermont dairy industry.  In 2011 she was offered her dream job at Boucher Family Farm, a diversified family farm in Highgate.  Hired to milk and manage the 140 head commercial dairy herd, she was able to integrate her own cows into the facility. She completed the Women's Beginning Farmer Program through UVM Extension and under the mentorship of cheesemaker Dawn Boucher, she followed her dream of on farm milk processing in the existing processing facility.  Redbarn Butter was born in 2013 and she began making cultured butter and buttermilk and later bottling whole cream top milk.  In the summers, Amber bottles about 200 gallons of pasteurized whole milk for summer camp programs.  She lives in Highgate, not far from Boucher Family Farm, with her husband and 3-year-old son on a small farm where she enjoys living and working on their land and raising their registered Guernsey calves.

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Aubrey Schatz- Family Cow Farmstand - Hinesburg

Aubrey and her partner Scott Hoffman operate the Family Cow Farmstand, a 12 cow, 100% grass-fed raw milk dairy in Hinesburg.  They sell their milk from their farm stand and through a five-day CSA delivery service.  Family Cow is proud to have been Vermont's first certified raw milk dairy and have been selling raw milk direct to consumers since 2008. Aubrey and Scott purchased the business from its previous owners in 2016, and prior to that had been farming all over the Northeast and in California.

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George van Vlaanderen – Does' Leap Farm – East Fairfield

Does’ Leap Farm is a certified organic goat dairy producing a variety of fresh and aged goat cheeses as well as farm-made sausages.  George van Vlaanderen and Kristan Doolan started the farm in 1997 with focus on grazing goats intensively.  Most of the cheese from the 50 milking goats is sold within 40 miles of the farm.

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Damien Boomhower - Bitter Sweet Valley Farm - Fairfield

Damian has worked on the family farm since he was old enough to help. Damian and his wife Jessica bought their farm in Fairfield in 2012 from his grandparents, where they now raise their beautiful kids Emmalynn, 7, and Elijah, 3. Damian is the fourth generation working his farm. They milk 70 Holsteins and have been organic for 14 years with Organic Valley. Farming is in his blood and he is thankful to share his love of farming with his family and community. 

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Larry Gervais - Gervais Family Farm - Enosburg Falls

Larry is part of three generations of family farmers operating Gervais Family Farm. Purchased by his parents as a 35-cow tie stall dairy in 1960, the farm is now one of the largest in Franklin County and milks collectively at three locations. Larry is one of 11 boys and 4 girls in the Gervais family and is the crops and feed specialist on the farm. He is also Chair of the Franklin & Grand Isle Farmers’ Watershed Alliance. Today you can find 10 of the Gervais children and grandchildren on the original farm. They each have a different skill set and strength allowing everyone to contribute and make the farm what it is today.

Come meet your local dairy farmers, celebrate our working lands, and gain on-the-ground insights to the industry that has long been a pillar of Vermont’s agriculture economy.

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Marita Canedo - Migrant Justice, representing the Milk with Dignity Program

The mission of Migrant Justice is to build the voice, capacity, and power of the farmworker community and engage community partners to organize for economic justice and human rights. They gather the farmworker community to discuss and analyze shared problems and to envision collective solutions. Through this ongoing investment in leadership development, members deepen their skills in community education and organizing for long-term systemic change. From this basis their members have defined community problems as a denial of rights and dignity and have prioritized building a movement to secure these fundamental human rights to: 1) Dignified Work and Quality Housing; 2) Freedom of Movement and Access to Transportation; 3) Freedom from discrimination; 4) Access to Health Care.

We hope to see you there. Please email Mollie with questions about the event.

Thanks to our friends at Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, the Skinny Pancake, and Wood Meadow Market in Enosburg for generously sponsoring this event.

Coco Moseley