McDonald Farm Danville, VT

McDonald Farm Danville, VT

A True Original

It was 1919 when 94 central Vermont farmers joined forces to turn their surplus milk into butter. Each contributed $5 per cow and one cord of wood to fuel the cooperative venture in a creamery in Cabot. McDonald Farm in Danville, one of the original co-op members, is still going strong. A century later, James Beattiea McDonald on his grandmother’s sidesays proudly, “My kids make it seven generations.”

Family Farmhouse

James’ dad grew up on the family farm but went on to own a store. James, though, spent most of his spare time on the farm where his paternal grandmother, legendary community member, Catherine McDonald Beattie, had raised her 10 children, along with four from her husband’s first marriage. “She was born and died in the same room of the farmhouse,” James says, noting that he and his wife, Lyndsay, are gratified to be able to raise their own two daughters in that very house that dates from 1874. “I always hoped to end up on the farm,” he says. “It was fun, a lot of freedom. Helping on the farm felt important. I liked the responsibility; it teaches to you a lot.”

Keeping History Going

Although he doesn’t dwell on it, James takes his heritage quite seriously. The farm was settled by his Scottish ancestors in 1839 and an old barn with sections dating back to 1896 still shelters young stock. “Keeping the history going,” he says, “was definitely part of the drive.” Another factor is the satisfaction of watching his girls grow up around the animals and farm like he did, and knowing they appreciate how deep their roots go. “They get it,” James says, “but we don’t push. We’ll let them choose it on their own.”

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