Buttercup Farm in the quiet eastern corner of Connecticut is run by Megan Johnson and her capable team. She started the farm in 2004 with the help of Brad Davis, who is still involved in the running of the farm. Megan grew up on Long Island and had never touched a cow until she was in college but she spent a lot of time rehabilitating orphaned or injured wild critters. Caring for animals is her passion. Megan had rheumatoid arthritis from a young age and her passion for dairy farming began after reading a book saying raw milk may improve the condition. None of the conventional approaches was making it better. She got her first cow Buttercup, a much loved Guernsey, and has been in remission from RA ever since. Megan now milk the cows, bottles the milk, feeds the cows and cleans the barn.
Buttercup Farm sell raw cow's milk and other produce like veggies, eggs, raw honey, goat milk soap and firewood. The cows are a variety of Jerseys, a red and white Holstein, a Swiss Brown and a few are Guernseys. They have adorable names: Daisy, Peanut Butter, Cocoa Butter, Fuzzy, Ginger Snap, Fern, Flower, Ethel, Blossom and Moses the bull. The farm sells raw milk from just under 10 milking cows.
Raw milk in Connecticut is exclusively produced by small, local farms using sustainable methods and its fans often highly value their connection to the farmer.
Milkmaid Megan recently posted on Facebook that a customer came up to her at one of the stores and praised the farm for the quality of the product.
"She said she was very happy that it was now GMO free, that we don't use antibiotics or hormones, she was also glad that the cows were almost all grass fed, that we milk almost all jerseys, that we keep things clean and achieve excellent testing results, also that pesticides or herbicides aren't used, and that her family can come to the farm to see all these practices for themselves. Then I got to thinking...she's right! This milk ROCKS! And if I wasn't the farmer I would certainly go to the store and buy this milk for the family and feel pretty darn good doing it! Thank you customers for continuing to appreciate the little things we do to make this milk (in my humble opinion) our best milk yet! Sincerely, Megan from Buttercup farm."
Regulated raw milk
The farm is a licensed raw milk dairy selling unpasteurised milk by the pint or half gallon. The Connecticut State Department of Agriculture licenses over a dozen raw milk dairies in the small state. They inspect the farm monthly and Buttercup farm send out samples to two different labs to ensure accurate results. At this raw milk dairy cleanliness is very important. According to this article: "Healthy animals produce healthy milk, so everything starts with the cows, and ends with clean water, clean equipment, and consistency. Details are important: hair nets, gloves, filters, testing, sampling, and a lot of common sense! If something is out of sorts the cows are the first to notice so I pay close attention to the cows." (source) Megan say that they have great respect for the animals. If a Mama needs her baby for her mental health during milking, they tend to leave the calf with her.
For more information on the raw milk laws and regulations in Connecticut see this Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund article.
Below is a somewhat romantic look at what happens on this raw milk dairy. Look at the exceptional care taken to clean the teats, udders and the equipment in the video below:
According to this article, milkmaid Megan is raising a whole community of volunteers and customers that come to know, firsthand, what good dairy farming looks like. When city kids come to the farm they are put to work. Their enthusiasm and helpfulness is amazing. Recently a strapping eight year old young man from the city was helping to feed the cows. Volunteers come and feed the cows, brush them and spray them with apple cider vinegar to ward off bugs. Megan enjoys to let volunteers find their own niche and passions on the farm. "I like to encourage them and watch these young people grow." This community farm is a positive environment where people feel they make a difference.
Buttercup Farm is deeply ingrained into their local community and receive a lot of support from the
Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine and the local farmer's markets. Melissa Hammond is responsible for the farm's public relations and marketing. "That's the only way I can describe it- community. Everyone comes together with new ideas, helping one another grow and flourish, forming lifelong friendships- both animal and mankind alike. We create a positive learning environment, a safe place for self expression, and a place of love and healing for anyone who wants to be a part of the farm."
This connection with local food and farmers is so important and is sadly missing from our modern industrialised food system. Fortunately local food economies are blossoming in this area with a resurgence of small farms serving their communities.