I’m sorry but that is a rosé tree MADE FOR ME.
By the way, I went to Vermont. I went to Vermont! And I’m still dreaming about it.
About a month ago, I had the marvelous pleasure of meeting (almost) everyone in and on the Stonyfield Organic crew and family. And I even mean Gary! THEE Gary. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Our main mission for the trip was to learn aaaaaall about organic farming. Which at a glance, are simply two sexy words that are supposed to make you feel good about yourself. But what DOES IT MEEEEEAN?
I’ll get to that in a bit.
Wanna take a peek at my Vermont journey?
Don’t be ridiculous, of course you do.
A modest group of food bloggers staggered into Burlington early on a Sunday afternoon. Our first task? WINE AND CHEESE. You should know by now that this is the first rule of blog travel. You arrive. You say hi. You glance around for gals you’re already familiar with. You snarf cheese and guzzle wine. Then the party begins. Don’t mess with food bloggers.
This photo was taken like, five minutes after we all met each other. It’s why we all have the “did-I-remember-deodorant-this-morning” look on our faces.
We did remember!
. . . I didn’t remember.
Look at Vermont! This spindly, quaint country road led up to the first of three organic dairy farms we visited that drizzly Vermont-y Monday morning. Enchanting, isn’t it?
Aaaaand is what that same road looks like with a bunch of bloggers taking over.
Enchanting, isn’t it?
I have to tell you about Julie. Because your life needs Julie.
Julie Wolcott, along with her equally and adorably gritty husband Steve, own Green Wind Farm together. In her 70s, but with a passion that rivals a teenager, this woman is BAD TO THE BONE. I mean the milk bone.
Listen to this, she’s got 25 cows on her picture-perfect organic farm that looks like a frickin’ dream and you want to punch it. She and Steve live in this unbelievably charming 1820s farmhouse that looks like a frickin’ dream and you want to punch it.
Julie was everything. She’s been farming her entire life, and was once conventional, but made the switch to organic a few years back, with the help of Stonyfield. Her spit-fire tenacity paired with a tender touch for her cows was soothing. Nurturing, even. Trudging through high grass in our rain boots and ponchos, we made our way through the open grazing fields in a heavy drizzle, as she explained to us the nature of organic farming, and why she made the transition. In short, going organic meant that her farm would stick around another generation. On top of that, it was a no-brainer for her, because it meant her cows (of whom she all names herself, like famous historical women, or constellations! hello, someone please call me the Little Dipper.), would be healthier and happier, able to roam the pesticide-free fields.
That makes the milk healthier and happier.
And then humans healthier and happier.
Something else I found completely interesting in regards to cow health, was that when a cow isn’t feeling just right, it knows which medicinal herbs in the field to nosh on, in order to help its tums tums. (<–WHY. WHYYYY.) This ^^ is the expert, Sarah Flack, showing us the various-placed herbs in the field, and how the cows just know which is best.
I guess they’re just mooooooo-ved to the herbs. (<–sorry.)
It’s too bad this place was a total eye sore.
EVEN THE COBWEBS ARE CHARMING.
After our dreary but endearing farm tour, Julie invited us all in for brunch in her enormous farmhouse kitchen.
(P.S. This ^^ isn’t that kitchen. This is her second utility-ish kitchen off to the side. Normally I can’t stand clutter, but I find this room so visually entrancing. I WANT TWO KITCHENS.)
We entered her cozy mudroom, one by one, shaking off our drenched rain boots and peeling out of our dripping ponchos, as we breathed hot air into our chilly hands and spilled into an open, warm farmhouse kitchen that looked straight out of Kinfolk meets FIELD OF DREAMS.
This brunch. THIS BRUNCH was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Everyone of us cozied up to a long, rustic farmhouse table, situated under exposed wooden beams on the ceiling above, and beautiful woven baskets as eye candy stacked on a high shelf in a corner.
But the food. OMG. A fluffy frittata with vegetables straight from her garden. Warm baked breads along with a delicate spinach and goat cheese salad made their way to each plate. We finished off brunch with the most delicious cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life. The organic cream was straight from her cow (probably Big Dipper), and the raw honey from her hive. UNREAL.
Can you believe her family cooked an entire brunch for 15 in this room!?
Just kidding. It was the other kitchen.
WAIT, MAYBE IT WAS THIS KITCHEN.
Apple and pear trees cradle her property, chickens bok from their coop in the distance, and a stray cat (that she’s had for EIGHTEEN YEARS) prances closely to our legs as we meander through the foggy and soggy grounds.
It was seriously like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Wanted to punch it.
This is the view from her bathroom OR WHATEVER.
Second organic farm of the day was a shorter, but powerful visit to Windy Hill Farm. There we met with owners Brendan and Mary Shreindorfer, who’ve also transitioned to organic in the last few years with the help of Stonyfield. See a trend here?
When we asked why they made the change, interestingly enough, it was more of the same – going organic made sense for them.
1) Made sense for the health of their cows. (get this, their vet bill for the dog was more expensive than an entire year for all their cows. WHAT!)
2) Made sense for the soil. (no toxic run-off because the soil captures more carbon, and the cow poo acts as a natural fertilizer on the fields that they openly graze on.)
3) Makes sense for our bods! Organic foods are packed with more antioxidants. Plus, less pesticides and homicides. (just kidding on the homicide thing I just said.)
4) Made sense for the farmers! I had no idea but it takes THREE YEARS to become organic. You have to go through a rigorous process to become certifiable. AND I also had no idea that Stonyfield helps farmers become organic. As in, they seek out family farms and hold their hand through the entire process. That way Stonyfield is able to use their milk and continue in their organic yogurt legacy. And then they’re all bffs!
IT’S THE CIRRRRRCLE OF LIIIIIIFE.
Wait, that’s not it.
GABBY BE BUSTEEEEED. (Just kidding, Gabby.)
To cut to it, organic farming is a win. All over. All around.
And hey, man – I’m not here to say that conventional farming is a horrible, awful thing. You know that’s not my steez. We need all farmers, everyone! But I WILL say, that my eyes were opened to the difference between organic farming vs. conventional. It’s an incredibly and increasingly tough business to sustain, I’ve learned. But when you hear Gary Hirshberg tell his story about how he started (and struggled with) Stonyfield yogurt back in his hippie days, and the success that followed once he transitioned to organic, it’s like, MOVING. I mean mooooo-ving.
Plus he’s kind of Richard Gere sexy and I was starstruck. So.
Also, a bee flew into my poncho during the quietest part of a presentation and I had a complete conniption in front of the entire crew and almost cried for an hour. It was super n’awesome.
Later that evening, once the rain began to wear off, we ventured further in southern Vermont, where we visited our final organic farm of the day, Philo Ridge Farm. Um, you guys, owners Peter and Diana are a) COMPLETELY ADORABLE and b) two forces to be reckoned with. A visionary activist (Diana), and a former surgeon (Peter), together bought and restored a failing farm and made it beautiful and fruitful once again.
We were having appetizers upstairs and as they were talking about their history together and their life on the restored farm, I was like I WANT TO BE YOU. Minus cow poo.
Oh that rhymed.
We ate dinner IN A WINE CELLAR. How is this life?
Gary Hirshberg joined us for dinner in this room, and was so charming and in tune with everyone. He kept calling me “Kansas City” and I probably melted a little and a lot. Don’t tell Gary!
(By the way, if you haven’t listened to this about Gary’s full story, MAKE IT HAPPEN. It’s worth it. 1394872834%.)
Also, a tiny mouse peeked at me from behind a wine crate to my right, during the quietest part of dinner and I had a complete freak attack in front of the entire room and it was n’awesome.
So what’s the whole point, you ask.
Like any trip that places you in the lives of the people who run their own businesses from the ground up (ha ha!), I’m left with a fresh appreciation. For the drive, for the passion, for the PEOPLE and their product.
As Gary said (something like this) in the podcast, “Getting the yogurt 3,000 miles across the country is easy. It’s the last 18 inches to the mouth that matters.” UGH, YES.
I’ve always liked Stonyfield yogurt, but noooow I’m a believer. I know the story behind it. I heard the passion in Gary’s voice, and I truly, honestly felt it. (don’t look at me like that!) I also now know what it took to get that yogurt to the standard that it is. And it’s freaking delicious, y’all.
Of course since our house is toddler infested, we’re irrationally obsessed with YoKids yogurt! They come in pouches, squeezers, and the traditional little cartons. Boom.
Our go-to? The long tubey squeezer thingy. I’m telling you, they are certifiably loony over the Birthday Cake flavor.
Plus they make the perfect on-the-go snack, when I don’t want to think too hard about anything.
MOM TRICK – stick the YoKids yogurt tubes down in a metal water bottle, and they’ll totally stay cool. You can even freeze them beforehand, for extra awesomeness.
We took them as our snack when we went pumpkin picking, and they ate like 38 of them in one sitting.
And by sitting I mean in a wheelbarrow. Because that’s normal.
This is the thing, and I SWEAR THIS NOVEL IS ALMOST OVER.
Eating ALL organic is extremely hard. And expensive! So I’m not here trying to convince you that you need to make a colossal life change and eat only organic forever and ever until your dying day. That ain’t my steez.
But what I will say is, Stonyfield Organic IS an organic option for you, and it’s at the exact same price point as regular yogurt. And with it, you can actually visualize the relationships that Stonyfield has built with all these incredible family farms scattered across New England. And Gary. You can visualize Gary.
It’s a baby step. But it moooooo-atters. (<–that didn’t work.)
Vermont, you guys.
One more leaf and pumpkin photo BECAUSE VERMONT.
(This post is definitely in partnership with Stonyfield Organic yogurt. But all yogurt inhalings and ramblings are totally my own. We coo?)