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Ferrisburgh farm nets statewide dairy award

FERRISBURGH — After netting a host of awards for high-quality milk and conservation farming practices, Cheryl and J.D. DeVos of Kimball Brook Farm in Ferrisburgh have a top prize to add to their trophy case: Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year for 2011.
The award is presented annually by the University of Vermont Extension and the Vermont Dairy Industry Association, and this year goes to the DeVoses for “overall excellence in dairying including their high-quality milk production; outstanding herd, crop and pasture management; and sound conservation practices,” according to the UVM extension press release announcing the award.
The DeVoses are also being recognized for their initiative in creating new opportunities for dairy sales and marketing in the state. According to Cheryl, the first bottled milk under their new Green Mountain Organic Creamery label will hit shelves this fall.
On Wednesday morning, Cheryl said her family was honored to receive the award, though she said Kimball Brook Farm was by no means the only farm deserving of the award. Susan Isham of Dairy Marketing Services nominated the farm.
“We were very shocked to be nominated,” said Cheryl. “It’s very nice, but I think that there are a lot of dairy farms out there that could be dairy farm of the year.”
Though Kimball Brook Farm has been in J.D.’s family since 1968, Cheryl and J.D. bought the Greenbush Road farm from his parents in 1997 and have been producing organic dairy for six years. The milk from their 220 cows goes to Horizon Organic, which, according to the UVM press release, consistently rewards the farm with premium prices for top-quality milk.
“We’ve always felt that we like to keep things clean and neat and organized,” said Cheryl. “(Horizon) pays a great premium for great quality, so we try to get that.”
The farm’s herd has access to pasture seven months of the year, and the DeVoses also grow organic corn and hay.
Beyond the farm, the DeVoses are also focusing on building the space for Green Mountain Organic Creamery, which will occupy part of the former Saputo Inc. cheese plant in Hinesburg.
“It’s coming along,” said Cheryl. “Though, like all projects, it takes more time than you want it to take.”
Workers will be pouring a new floor in the bottling room this week, and walls and drains are going into the space as well. At this point, said Cheryl, one of the limiting factors is the Maryland-based company that manufactures the processing equipment, which has been swamped with orders for similar small dairy processing plants.
“There are a lot of value-added plants going up across the country,” said Cheryl.
Still, the DeVoses are shooting to get milk into Vermont stores by late October or November, and once the business has become viable, to take in milk from other small organic dairies as well.
All in all, said Cheryl, “We’re busy.”
The family will be honored at the Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts in September and at the Vermont Dairy Association Banquet in January.
“Oftentimes in farming, you don’t feel appreciated,” said Cheryl. “We want to thank UVM Extension for this honor — we really appreciate it.”
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at andreas@addisonindependent.com.

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