Farmer Friday: Coon Brothers Farm
Amenia, New York
Coon Brothers Farm was founded in Amenia, NY in 1953, just a couple hours North of New York City, depending on traffic. Brothers Garrison and Dirck Coon started the farm with a herd of Guernseys. They’ve always had an eye toward quality milk and conservation of the land, culminating with the Farm being awarded the 2000 New York State Environmental Stewardship Award.
The family manages more than 2,000 acres, growing feed for their herd. They now have around 600 Holstein and Guernsey cattle – 350 of them milking cows.
Garrison passed away in 2000, but Dirck continues to own and manage the farm along with sons Peter and David and Peter’s sons Isaac and Amos. Both Isaac and Amos have two young children, and the 4th generation is beginning to become more involved on the farm.
In addition to more than 60 years of outstanding farming, the Coon family has contributed two Military Veterans – Peter was in the US Navy and his son Isaac was in the US Marine Corps.
The family also stays active in their community and their Cooperative. They have participated in all three Cabot Open Farm Sunday events (2009, 2011 and 2013) and Isaac and wife Amber have been very involved in our Young Cooperator Program.
The Coon Family is actually a member of two great cooperatives. In addition to being owners of the Cabot Creamery and McCadam brands, they are part of the Hudson Valley Fresh Cooperative, producing award-winning milk, cream and ice cream.
This week, we are excited to feature Isaac and Amber Coon for our #FarmerFriday blog. Many thanks to them for taking the time to answer our questions – and to Peter and Isaac for their service to our country. Happy belated Veteran’s Day!
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?|
Isaac: Being able to spend time with my kids, whether it’s to babysit while my wife takes one to an appointment or just a tractor ride, because they won’t nap (which has a pretty good success rate). Also, I love teaching them about farming and how to do things in hopes that they will love farming as much as I do. My daughter already loves so much of the farm, and my son loves anything with a steering wheel and/or wheels. This makes me a proud dad.
Amber: I know some days can be a challenge, but it’s all worth it in the end. We can stop over to see my husband, the kids love to spend an afternoon with their dad in the combine or tractor. They will get to grow up knowing how to work hard, care for animals, appreciate the land and its beauty, and so many other enriching things.
What is your family’s favorite meal? Care to share a recipe (or pick from the Cabot site)?
Amber: I’m pretty sure I can answer this one without a second thought – Baked Mac n Cheese. We love to use a mix of Cabot or McCadam Pepper Jack and Cabot Sharp Cheddar. Our milk from the farm, some seasoned breadcrumbs and a secret ingredient drizzled on top. Whenever I can’t think of what to make for dinner, it’s usually the first suggestion with a smile. (My husband agrees 100% with my answer)
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
Isaac: Spring, because of how quickly things turn green and begin to grow.
What is the next big sustainability story on your farm?
Isaac: We are looking into a methane digester and bringing in food waste to increase productivity of the digester. It’s a future project, even if it’s a 10 year goal.
How many generations of your family have been on the farm (and who is there now)?
Isaac: There are three generations, one generation retired, and two generations actively working. My grandfather, Dirck and my late Great Uncle Garry started the farm in 1953 with a herd of Guernseys. My father, Peter, my uncle Dave, my brother Amos, and I all own the farm.
I said three, but you could probably say there are four generations including my children and their cousins. All of them like to “help” in their own way.
All the generations actually still live on the farm. It’s our own little community.
What time of year is the busiest for you?
Isaac: Not Winter :0)
Summer and fall are usually our busiest times because of harvest. We are more than a dairy farm, so we grow more than just what we need to feed our cows. We grow over 2,300 acres of wheat, hay, corn, and soybeans. We tend to keep busy from the moment we start planting until the last ear of dry corn is combined.
What is one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
Isaac: That for us, it’s not just an occupation, it’s a lifestyle. We eat, sleep, and breathe farming. We love farming, it’s in our blood.