UNH To Establish Organic Dairy Farm
Gift from Stonyfield Farm Helps Launch
First-ever Organic Dairy Farm at U.S. Land-Grant University
By Beth Potier, Media Relations
The University of New Hampshire will establish an organic dairy
farm for research, education, and outreach, making it the nation’s
first land-grant university to have an organic dairy farm.
Londonderry, N.H. industry leader Stonyfield Farm has made a $200,000
leadership gift to the project, which carries an estimated price
tag of $1.5 million.
“UNH has a remarkable opportunity to provide much-needed research
and education to organic dairy farmers, present and future, while
helping to secure the future of the northeast region’s farming
heritage and rural communities,” said William Trumble, dean
of UNH’s College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA).
“As consumer demand for organic products rises – outpacing
supply, in the case of dairy – the time is appropriate for
UNH to provide leadership in organic dairy education and research.”
“This project represents completion of a full circle for
Stonyfield Farm,” said Gary Hirshberg, President and CE-Yo.
“Nearly 24 years ago, Stonyfield Farm Yogurt was
launched as a project of the rural education center, a small
New Hampshire school created to help teach farmers
new organic farming methods. Now we are proud to provide
our largest single grant ever to the University of New Hampshire
to continue the critical work of teaching the next generation of
farmers. This could not come at a better time, as the organic
dairy market in general and New England in particular are
in need of more organic farmers.”
“The organic dairy will build on UNH’s long-standing
commitment to New Hampshire’s agricultural roots as well as
our reputation as a leader in animal and dairy science and sustainability,”
said UNH President Ann Weaver Hart. “We are grateful to Stonyfield
Farm for helping this project come to fruition.”
The new research dairy farm, located on a 200-acre parcel of certified-organic
land at the university’s Burley-Demeritt Farm in Lee, N.H.,
will begin operation in December 2005 with the acquisition of 50
to 60 Jersey heifers. Construction of a composting-bedded pack barn
and milking center, as well as acquisition of equipment and installation
of fencing, will occur in summer 2006, and organic hay and baleage
were harvested for this winter’s feed. This ambitious timeline
allows for certified organic milk production to begin in December
The farm will serve as both an applied research center for integrated
organic production and management and an education center for organic
dairy farmers, farmers undergoing or considering transition to organic,
and students of sustainable agriculture.
Responding to a growing need by farmers for science-based research
to support organic dairy efforts, the project will be directed by
a 20-person advisory board that includes eight dairy farmers from
New England, New York and Pennsylvania. Veterinarians, grazing consultants,
and a nutritionist also sit on the board, which will play a key
role in setting the research agenda of the farm.
Working in partnership with Stonyfield, UNH is leveraging the organic
yogurt maker’s gift to raise additional funds. The project
also has secured a significant gift from a retired conventional
New Hampshire dairy farm couple toward the purchase of dairy cattle
for the farm; and Hubbard, LLC donated feed mixing and processing
UNH is already involved in a larger New England university effort
to offer more research-based information to a growing organic dairy
and feed industry. A recent $829,000 United States Department of
Agriculture grant, awarded jointly to UNH and the University of
Maine, charges researchers at both institutions with studying ways
to reduce New England dairies’ reliance upon imported grains.
Rotational grazing of the animals and research on grazing and feeding
options will be a focus of the organic dairy farm.
UNH is one of the nation’s top-tier land-, space-, and sea-grant
universities. The university maintains its commitment to agriculture
and food systems with strong programs in life sciences and agriculture.
Facilities include the Fairchild Conventional Dairy Teaching and
Research Center, an equine farm, a miniature swine unit at Burley-Demeritt
Farm, five greenhouses, and an organic garden. UNH is also a higher
education leader in sustainability, with projects ranging from a
new highly efficient co-generation power plant and alternative fuels
for campus vehicles to a program that composts food waste from campus
dining halls and local eateries and an emerging interdisciplinary
center focusing on the state’s food security.
Stonyfield Farm (www.stonyfield.com),
celebrating its 23rd year, is the world’s largest organic
yogurt manufacturer, and produces all natural and organic yogurt,
smoothies, cultured soy, frozen yogurt, ice cream and milk. The
company advocates that healthy food can only come from a healthy
planet. It was the nation’s first dairy processor to pay farmers
not to treat cows with the synthetic bovine growth hormone rBGH.
Stonyfield donates 10 percent of its profits to environmental causes;
was America's first manufacturer to offset 100 percent of its CO2
emissions from its facility energy use; and recently installed the
fifth largest solar array in New England to help power its production
plant - all efforts to reduce global warming.