Belgian farmers learn from Vermont farms

Published: Sep. 13, 2019 at 8:01 AM EDT
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A group of Belgian farmers is on an international tour to learn different techniques and they're stopping in the Green Mountains.

The visit for the group of 38 included a visit to Shat Acres Farm, a Highland cattle farm in Greensboro.

Thousands of miles and two herds are coming together, but this introduction almost didn't happen.

"I received an email saying that there was a group that wanted to come visit our farm from Belgian," said Janet Steward, the co-owner of Shat Acres.

The first email was ignored because Steward, who runs the farm with her husband, said she thought it was spam.

"I received another email that said we'll be there on September 12, at which point I said I probably should respond," she said.

Steward learned the Belgians were interested in meat, dairy and grain production. They were doing a tour based out of Montreal and wanted to visit her farm, one of two they will visit in Vermont.

Steward says one reason they could be visiting her is because of the way she runs her farm.

"I'm hoping they learn a little bit about our rotational grazing process-- that we move the cattle on a regular basis to different paddocks so they always have good feed," she said.

Steward says the rotational grazing keeps the cows eating, growing and healthy.

As for the Belgians, they asked questions about feeding, breeding and temperament of the Highland cattle. The farmers are here on vacation to get a glimpse of what it's like to farm with cattle that are different than what they are used to.

"They are very pleased about all they see and all the information that they get in the various farms they've visited before," said Andre Parent, the group's guide.

And what's a visit without a meal? Steward served up short ribs.

"We are happy to have other people from other places come and commune with us," she said.

This is only one of three stops they are making in Vermont. The next farm that they go to is a dairy farm and then they head back to Montreal.