Conventional dairy is in decline and the average age of dairy farmers in Maine is approaching 60. Too few young people are entering organic dairy. Meanwhile, the demand for organic milk is increasing at a dramatic rate, creating a nationwide shortage of organic milk.
To address these challenges, Wolfe’s Neck Farm, an educational nonprofit farm in Freeport, ME, has launched an 18-month residential Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program. This program aims to increase the production of organic milk in the Northeast while fostering the next generation of organic dairy farmers. It will achieve this goal by partnering with new, transitioning, and existing organic dairy farmers to improve their practices and ensure long-term sustainability and production in this region. This program is the first of its kind in the nation, and is being launched with a major grant from the Danone Ecosystem Fund and Stonyfield.
The Wolfe’s Neck Farm dairy will be used as a platform for forage-based research, experimentation, demonstration, and training. The program will feature and study innovative approaches for new farmers to reduce the initial capital investment, reduce financial risks and build a viable operation.
The dairy is a pasture-based, low-grain operation that utilizes biological farming practices and carries and organic certification. Biological farming focuses on encouraging soil health in order to grow high quality, mineralized feed, which is the key aspect of supporting animal health and farm profitability.
Wolfe’s Neck Farm is now accepting applications for the first training program, beginning the summer of 2015. Deadline is June 1.