Echo Farm Puddings Hinsdale, NH
“4-H Project Gone Haywire”
The Hodge sisters are first-generation farmers who fell in love with the work and the animals as youngsters. The girls were barely teenagers when their parents bought Echo Farm to fulfill their own dream of moving to the country. The family’s small farm is “a 4-H project gone haywire,” jokes Beth, the oldest. Soon they discovered Milking Shorthorns, a red and white British dairy breed. “We were supposed to sell them once they were bred,” Courtney explains, “but then Mom said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to milk a cow?’”
The Hodge sisters’ cows are great recyclers; part of their feed is made up of spent grain from local breweries. Spent grain is a significant byproduct of the brewing process and breweries need to dispose of it in an environmentally sustainable way. Rich in carbohydrates and protein, it can contribute well to a balanced diet for livestock like dairy cattle. Everybody wins. (And, no, the cows don’t get tipsy.)
“We always knew we wanted to make our own product, too,” says Beth. It was their father, a CPA and financial planner, who “pushed for pudding,” she recalls; he even secured their original recipe from one of his tax clients, a Greek diner owner in Connecticut. The line now includes vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, and rice puddings along with seasonal favorites like spiced pumpkin and maple, which are distributed all over the Northeast and shipped nationwide to devoted fans.
Model for Young Farmers
Echo Farm is a great model for aspiring young farmers as the first dairy farm in the country to be certified humane by Humane Farm Animal Care and Beth is an active member of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau. The family welcomes young people who want to help on the farm and they remain very involved in their local 4-H club, counting with pride those who have gone on to agricultural studies. “It was our first taste of agriculture,” says Courtney. “It helps us share our love of animals and of farming,” adds Beth.