Cynthia and Rich Larson have lived and worked on their 320-acre farm in Wells, Vermont, since 1977. After meeting at the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, they were drawn to the state’s beauty and affordable farm land to establish a dairy. While they began the dairy using the conventional farming methods that Rich was familiar with from his upbringing on a family farm, their personal observations encouraged them to transition to a farming system that prioritizes the needs of their animals and their land.
Larson Farm is now home to Animal Welfare Approved Jersey dairy cattle and Devon x Angus beef cattle, all raised outdoors on pasture with the help of Mercy, their youngest daughter. From their origins as conventional dairy farmers, Rich and Cynthia have become what they call “grass farmers,” prioritizing the regeneration of the depleted soil they inherited when they bought their farm. Cynthia and Rich believe that “if we can regenerate the soil, re-mineralizing it after 200 years of farming, our cattle should be able to get all the nutrients they need from it.”
The constant experimentation and innovation that Rich and Cynthia undertake to improve their farming methods and nutrient availability for their cattle is paying off; the “mineral buffet” that the Larsons offer their cattle, which allows their animals to choose which supplemental nutrients they need at any given time, is being utilized less as less as they improve their soil. While their learning curve has been steep and the progress they’ve made is significant, the Larsons are confident that they will never stop learning.
“Our goal is to influence the world for good through the use of our resources in an agricultural business that provides for us financially, involves other people, creates quality products, is environmentally sound, and allows for a balanced life that includes time for renewing of the mind and body, recreation, and service to others,” say Cynthia and Rich.
One of the strong relationships the Larsons have developed is a partnership with Consider Bardwell Farm, an Animal Welfare Approved farm and award-winning cheesemaker that buys the farm’s milk to make their cheeses. Having a contract with Consider Bardwell gives the Larsons more predictability and control over their income. The state-of-the-art creamery at Consider Bardwell also provides a useful outlet for the milk from several other small local producers that would not be able to afford their own processing facilities.
Customers can buy Larson Farm’s grassfed beef and milk direct from the farm during daylight hours. Visit http://www.larsonfarmvt.com/ for more information about the farm.