The Beidler Family Farm is counting on your vote. The Randolph farm is among a group of six finalists picked from a pool of 72 Organic Valley dairy farms across the country. The winner-- determined by popular vote-- gets $10,000 to build the project of their dreams.
"So I was very surprised to see ourselves as one of the finalists-- surprised and pleased," Brent Beidler said.
Applicants were judged for their projects' ability to sustain organic farming practices and innovation.
Brent and Regina Beidler sell their milk to Stonyfield Farm. But over the past few years they've diversified their small 145-acre, 35-cow, two-horse farm. They now also grow 15 acres of grains including wheat, spelt and Japanese millet.
"Growing grain for us, it's a diversified enterprise which fits in well with the dairy because growing the grain provides some straw-- the stems of the grain crops-- and for bedding, so that fits in well with the dairy portion of our farm," Brent Beidler said.
From harvesting the grains to sorting them on a turn-of-the century seed cleaning machine to grinding the flour and then saving the seeds for next season, the Beidlers do it all.
"I find that there is a real satisfaction in producing something as basic as good quality food for your local community too, and I think that's one of the things that has carried us along," Beidler said.
The Beidlers' big wish in the Organic Valley competition is to buy new seed cleaning equipment.
"This machine was not really designed for the way I'm using it... I do still have a little bit of chafe that I can't clean out. That's fine for the local market but if I want to sell it on a larger scale you want to make sure that it's free of debris and chafe," Beidler said. "For decades grain has not been grown in this area and I think as people look towards the future they're concerned that perhaps this region wouldn't have the local food supply and now there a whole group of grain growers in the state that are giving it a go and learning and there's more and more products becoming available on the market all the time."
At a time when the dairy industry is facing trying times, Brent Beidler says he wouldn't have it any other way.
"Farming is, I would have to say, one of the passions of my life. I really enjoyed agriculture from the time I was young," he said.
Taking traditional dairy farming in a new direction.
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