Sometimes, doing things right just makes sense
Over the last several years, many buzz words have been thrown at the American public. Organic. All-natural. Cage-free. Free range. Going green. Carbon foot print. GMO-free. It's enough to make you throw your hands in the air. Trust us, we understand. That's why like to keep things simple. Here's how how we farm.
People ask us all the time, what makes your cheese special? The answer is simple - we start from the ground up. Sweet Grass Dairy is a sustainable farm that blends old-world traditions with new-world technology to develop the best environment for our animals.
What does this mean?
How We Farm
Our mother farm utilizes New Zealand style rotational grazing. This system moves herds regularly, strategically and systematically to fresh pastures in an effort to maximize the quality and quantity of the each paddock. Herds graze on one portion of the pasture for a period of time which allows the other pastures time to recover and remain ecologically viable. Moving the animals on a consistent basis ensures that there is an even amount of grazing throughout the pastures and our farm does not become "weakened." It also reduces the amount of animal waste and allows farmers to have more pastures at their maximum peak production. Additionally, rotational grazing depends on having an adequate water supply for the animals and for the pasture. Thus, farms that use rotational grazing methods rely on irrigation and water pivot systems that are moved from pasture to pasture. Having a constant water source that the farmer controls helps increase the herd's productivity, reduces runoff, and limits erosion. The length of time each herd spends on a pasture varies with the size of the pasture and the size of the herd. At Green Hill Farms, we have anywhere from 600 to 800 cows spread over three separate farms. The majority of the herd are Jersey cows and are moved every 12 to 24 hours depending on the needs of both the animals and the farm.
Our Pasture and Soil
We regularly test the soil to make sure its mineralized and enriched with the right organic matter to make it strong enough to support vegetation. Then we select a mixture of seeds to be planted. Typically, we have a blend of nine planted varieties of plants growing in our fields plus multitudes of native plants that have already established themselves in our ecosystem.
Our family-owned cows are treated like they are supposed to be treated: out on grass, free to run around and enjoy nature as intended. We never use hormones and we rarely use antibiotics and even then it's strictly on a case-by-case basis. We treat our animals like we would treat members of our family, because to us they are. Conventional dairy cows are constantly battling sickness and live about 2 to 3 years after entering the milk herd. However, our cows have a life expectancy upwards of 12 years and rarely get sick. In addition, we respect the natural cycles of our animals. Our cows are not milked all year long, each animal has approximately two months away from the rigors of milking.
What Drives Us Daily
We possess a fierce desire to change the American perspective on food. We endeavor to break down the wall between producer and consumer through educational efforts. Finally, we are committed to providing high quality cheeses and refuse to compromise our standards.
Our goal is to handcraft fresh, soft-ripened and naturally aged cow cheeses that are unique and delicious. We are dedicated to creating old-world style cheeses that highlight the rich, high quality milk our animals produce. Our milk comes from our rotationally grazed cows that never receive growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. Our soil remains the cornerstone for maintaining biological and sustainable farming practices which results in our high quality food stuffs.
We strive to enrich the minds of current and future generations by actively promoting biological, sustainable agriculture. Our aim is to enlighten and educate the public about the importance of understanding the origins of our food. We will always handcraft old-world style cheeses while maintaining respect for the history, philosophy, and the values that founded Sweet Grass Dairy. We are dedicated to remaining a family-owned and operated dairy.