Farmer Friday: Valleyside Farm
The Young family has been in the beautiful farming community of Woodstock, Connecticut, since the 1700s. The town, located in the Northeast corner of the state, has the largest number of active farms in Connecticut. The land that Valleyside Farm sits on was originally deeded by King of England and has been in the family ever since.
With all the changes in farming in the past 200 years – not to mention the rest of the world – survival is no guarantee. You need a lot of hard work, great communication, teamwork and some good luck. The Youngs have had all these components in spades.
Lucas Young along with his wife Angela make up the 8th generation of Youngs at Valleyside Farm. They have four children, Chase, Adelise, Georgiana and Lydia who all love growing up on the farm. Lucas manages the farm along with his father Tim. His grandfather, Dexter, is recently ‘retired’, but at 81 still dedicates much of his free time to helping where he is needed.
Being in the same town so long, it is no surprise that the family is very involved in their community. They have a long history in the local fire department, the church and the very active 4H club.
The Youngs do an outstanding job managing their land and 210 cattle – mostly Holsteins. They have a strong reputation for quality and have won many Milk Quality Awards over the years and were named Connecticut Dairy Farm of the year in 2007. They also enjoy sharing their passion for farming with the community, as a past participant of Cabot’s Open Farm Sunday and several cheese samplings at local grocery stores. Lucas and Angela are also planning to join 80 of their fellow Co-op members in visiting New York City this March as part of the Cabot Farmer’s Gratitude Tour!
This week we thank Angela and Lucas for taking the time to sit down and answer our #FarmerFriday Questions!
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
Our favorite part of dairy farming is the pride we get in watching our children grow with the same values and traditions that we were blessed to be raised with. It is incredible being on the same land that has been worked and handed down through the generations, the same love and respect for our animals and the understanding that everything we work for is to keep our family’s love of agriculture growing strong.
What is your family’s favorite meal?
That’s a tough one because we love so many recipes made with our Cabot dairy products. If we were to take a family vote it would be Mac and Cheese made with the bacon cheddar. So yummy!
What is your least favorite farm chore?
After last winter it would have to be plowing snow! Good thing those kind of snow fall yields don’t happen every year!
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
Harvest time is our favorite, although it’s our busiest and the kids often have to catch rides in the chopper to say hi to dad. There’s no greater reward and peace than from seeing all that hard work pay off. Click here to see a video of them chopping corn last season!
What is the next big sustainability story on your farm?
We’ve made a lot of changes in the last ten years by diversifying and reevaluating our business and environmental practices. We work together with another family farm to help spread the load during cropping season and do a little custom work as well. We’ve made our planting and manure management practices more environmentally friendly. Our next big step is to make use of solar energy to run the farm. We are also looking into a clean burning biomass furnace for our heating needs.
Does anyone in your family participate in any volunteer activities in the community?
Many generations of Young’s have been active in community service in our community, most significantly the fire department. Tim and Dexter are previous Chiefs and Lucas is currently a captain. Our family is busy with church groups and part of an active dairy 4-H club.
What do you think is your greatest accomplishment on the farm?
Lucas credits much of the farms success to the relationship he maintains with his father. They have a mutual respect for one another and communicate regularly regarding the daily comings and goings of the farm. This team approach to a loved but ever-changing and often stressful business is a key part to ensure generations to come will be able to continue our legacy.
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