Wolfe’s Neck Center is pleased to announce the completion and dedication of a new Organic Dairy Teaching Facility. This facility and the two-year, residential training program it supports was developed in partnership with Stonyfield, with the goal of training the next generation of organic dairy farmers.
The new organic dairy facility includes a compost-bedded pack barn, milkhouse with public viewing area, covered manure storage facility and a commodity shed. A separate calf barn will be added to the facility in the future. This facility is the latest piece of a long-range plan to transform Wolfe’s Neck Center into a leading center to address, research and provide insight on the critical intersection of agriculture/food and environment/climate.
“The average age of dairy farmers across the country is approaching 60 and the consolidation of farms has dramatically reduced the number of family-sized farms in Maine and across the country,” said Dave Herring, Executive Director. “Together with our partners at Stonyfield, we are working to support the next generation of organic dairy farmers. We see this program, and others like it around the country, as playing a critical role in helping support a thriving agricultural sector in the future.”
In 2014, Stonyfield Organic, the leading organic yogurt producer in the U.S., formed a partnership with Wolfe’s Neck to leverage their ability to impact the next generation of farmers. With a $1.69 million grant through Stonyfield, WNC launched a first-of-its kind training program for organic dairy farmers.
“The kind of work happening at Wolfe’s Neck is critical to charting a more sustainable path forward for agriculture. We are thrilled to partner with them and continue to provide leadership support to the farmer training and climate smart farming initiatives,” said Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture.
In the program, aspiring organic dairy farmers spend two years at Wolfe’s Neck Center living on site, receiving intensive training in organic farm and pasture management, animal health and comfort, and business planning. This program was further bolstered in 2016 when the organization secured a $573,256 grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
Since its inception, five Apprentices have completed their two-year training program at Wolfe’s Neck Center and have secured employment in the dairy and ag sector in Maine. More information can be found at wolfesneck.org.
About Wolfe’s Neck Center
Situated on four miles of coastline in Freeport, Maine, its 626 acres of preserved scenic landscape host thousands of visitors each year and is the creation of LMC and Eleanor Houston Smith. Since 1957, they were committed to the future of Maine farming, to the new idea of organic agriculture, to conservation and the preservation of open space, to public access to the sea, and to the preservation of historic buildings and sites.
The farm became a nonprofit in 1985 and is shaping the future of sustainable agriculture by training new farmers, inspiring people to make informed food choices, and facilitating farm-based education and research. Open free to the public year-round, the farm encourages visitors to explore its miles of hiking trails, meet the livestock, explore the gardens and enjoy the open space. The mission of Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment is to transform our relationship with farming and food for a healthier planet.
Over the last three years, the organization has renovated and restored its two 19th century farmsteads, completed a renovation of the 18th century Pote Barn for use in the Organic Dairy program and has plans to build a new, year-round Education and Research Center and a new Visitor Center in the coming years.