100% Grass-fed and Organic
In May 2017 Ben and Kristen Beichler bought their 243 acre farm in Middlebrook, Virginia in the Unites States. The pair met at renowned Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm where Ben did an apprentice and Kristen a summer internship. They both love farming and together they both worked several farming jobs before starting their own farm which is now transitioning to organic certification. The farm's 100% grass-fed Jersey herd enjoy fresh pasture, dried hay and baleage (sweet fermented hay). This all-grass diet ensure the highest amount of beneficial Omega-3 and Omega-6 in the right proportions. For more information on why many dairy farmers produce a 100% grass-fed raw milk, read here. The farm's website say: "A 100% grass diet is also better on the cows' digestion system which is designed to digest forage, not starchy grains. This means less stress for the cows and extends the lifespan of the cows, allowing them to live their life to the fullest. You can't beat good food and sunshine, and so the Creambrook cows are outside every day of the year. We move them to fresh pasture at least once every day, often times more than that!"
There are no synthetic chemicals, antibiotics, or hormones used on Creambrook Farm. The farm practices rotational grazing, which incorporates the use of temporary paddocks and allows for holistic management, where the cows are moved to fresh pasture at least once a day and often more. It was previously a beef cattle farm and had infrastructure in place to allow for first-rate transition to a dairy farm. The Shenandoah Valley farm also run a herd share program.
Herd shares in Virginia
Creambrook Farm started the herd share in June and currently have 90 families who are part of the raw milk share - amounting to 100 shares. According to this article there is a startup fee of $34 to buy into the herd and some buy multiple shares because they require more. Then it is $34 a month for the boarding and weekly delivery. Kristen told Laura Peters: "You cannot sell raw milk in the state of Virginia. The way people can do it is you buy into the herd, like owning a share, and they get milk from their own cows. We don't sell the product, we are a service of taking care of the cows and collecting that milk and giving it to them." According to the Raw Milk Nation Map the sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal in the state of Virginia, however there is no law on herd shares.
Standards for raw milk production are important
There are no regulation, standards or requirements in the state of Virginia for producing raw milk well, so Ben and Kristen have adopted the standards used in Pennsylvania. A few years ago Ben managed one of the largest raw milk dairies in Pennsylvania, so he is very familiar with the state's high standards. Pennsylvania have issued permits to licensed farmers for more than a decade and have an established raw milk industry. In 2013 there were 163 licensees with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
However not all farms who operate under a herd share arrangement, with no support from the state, farm in the same way with sanitary steps, testing etc. Ben recommends that consumers get to know their farmer in such cases and they shouldn't just get it from anywhere. Dr. Oz says the same.
Ben and Kristen have their own lab where they test the quality of the milk before it leaves the farm. They recognise that we now have technology and knowledge at our disposal to produce a great quality, pathogen-free raw milk. They also supply milk to Old Church Creamery. See the video below to learn more about the farm.