Ever since we were kids, both of us knew we wanted to farm. Neither of us had a farm or land in our families, so we never knew how it might happen. But it did. Lindsay left a career in the natural sciences for an opportunity to work full time for a beef farm where she also raised pigs and milked a few cows. Evan was studying Ecological Agriculture at the University of Vermont when we met.
We decided to expand Lindsay's raw milk business together and in 2008 we started a grass-based micro dairy; Family Cow Farmstand on leased land in Hinesburg, Vermont. We started with next to nothing, but we worked hard, treated our cows like family and in turn they gave amazing milk. Our community embraced our farm and products and soon, milking 8 cows, we became Vermont’s largest, state-certified, raw milk dairy.
As we were coming to the end of our 5 year lease at Family Cow, we wanted to buy a farm so we could make longer term investments in the soil. We found an historic hill farm in Tunbridge that was a little rough around the edges, but suited our needs in a lot of ways. Our raw milk customers had always been frustrated by the lack of good, grass fed butter, and since that’s our favorite food too, that’s what we decided to focus on!
Mountain Home Farm began as a vision to create some of the highest quality and most delicious food you can find...Anywhere! We also held a vision of finding a quiet space in the hills of Vermont for our family to grow; both human and animal.
In the nine short months that we have been on our farm in Tunbridge we have accomplished many things. We built a processing facility, a milk room and parlor and renovated other farm infrastructure. Through one of the coldest Vermont winters in recent memory, we spent many days and late nights framing, wiring, insulating, and finishing the necessary infrastructure to get our products on store shelves.
This past March we began producing and selling our 100% grass-fed cultured butter, buttermilk and ricotta. The response to our products has been very encouraging! We are producing the quality and type of products that many consumers have been waiting for. There are very few dairy products for sale in the United States that are 100% grass-fed and produced from a single source in a handmade fashion. Currently we milk 8 (yes, just 8!) Guernsey cows who provide us with delicious, golden milk high in Vitamin A. Our customers have a great desire and respect for our products because of these attributes.
Although we have had strong start here on the farm, we have much more work to do. As many of you know, the start-up phase of any business is a period of high expenses and low, yet growing, income. We have many projects we need to start and/or complete in order to maintain and grow our business.
- Our milking parlor is only half done. We have additional space set aside for more cows as we grow, but we need to finish this space for it to be inspected and usable.
- The overwintering site for our cows is the bottom floor of a 100 year old barn that was built into the side of a hill. We discovered last winter that a spring bubbles out of the hillside and causes moisture issues in this space. We need to make renovations to correct this problem.
- We have a 1988 Ford tractor that is essential for many different things on the farm. This tractor is relatively old and most certainly well used. We have a long list of repairs and maintenance that we need to chip away at.
- We would like to improve and expand our online presence with a new website and better marketing materials including professional photography
Funding these projects will help keep up our momentum and our delicious products on the shelves in Vermont and beyond. Please support our project today!
Risks and challenges
Farming is no stranger to risks and challenges. Since we started farming 8 years ago we have had success, but this has come with many challenges and failures that in the end taught us a lot.
This project has been a new challenge for us in many ways. We are making new products and selling mostly to the wholesale market. This is a big change from our previous business where we sold direct to the consumer. When we don't have as much direct interaction with our customers, we have to learn new ways of reaching them. The risk we face is not reaching our benchmarks of sales in order to sustain our business. I believe we can overcome this risk in a couple of ways. First, we are incredibly persistent people who have overcome challenging sales situations before in our prior raw milk business. Second, improving our online presence is important way to reach more people especially when we do not interact with them in person regularly. By cultivating an active and interesting web presence I think we can reach more people and introduce them to our food.
We both have college educations and valuable, marketable skills. We are both employable and resourceful and can supplement with off-farm income if needed.
Another challenge we face is competition. At the moment we are the only producer selling butter, buttermilk and ricotta from 100% grass-fed cows in Vermont, and possibly the entire country. As the demand for such products continues to grow it is likely that other producers will enter this niche. To ameliorate this risk, we are scaled small and plan to stay small so we can produce the highest quality products. Because we are small also happens to be why people really like our products and our farm. We will not compromise quality for quantity. Another strength we have is the quality of our branding. We have great graphics on our packaging and have created a high quality and consistent line of products.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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