Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Food Farmer Earth: Small Dairy Success Story

In this interview for Food Farmer Earth, I talk with Garry Hansen of Lady-Lane Farm in Mulino, Oregon. He tells how he almost had to sell his beloved cows but then started selling his milk directly to customers at a farmers' market.

Dairyman Garry Hansen was born and raised on his father’s dairy farm in Mulino, and from an early age he loved working with the gentle Jersey cows in his father’s herd. He and his older brother worked on the farm feeding the calves, cleaning pens and helping with milking before they gobbled down their breakfast and ran off to school in the morning. Garry said it taught them responsibility from a very young age, remembering that he also had to come home after school and do chores if he wanted go back for sports practices.

His older brother joined their father’s business after graduating from college and Garry followed shortly thereafter, though within a few years it became clear that the business couldn’t support three families. Garry struck out on his own, renting land nearby and starting his own herd of Jerseys and selling their milk to a processor.

The fact that he couldn’t count on a consistent price for his milk due to the volatility of the dairy market nearly drove him out of business at one point, so to save his cows he decided to investigate becoming a processor and distributor of his own milk. Luckily for him another dairy was selling its equipment at a price that made it possible for him to start bottling. Another stroke of luck came when the old dairy farm next door to his family’s farm came up for sale, and Lady-Lane Farm was born.

Read the rest of my story about Garry and Lady-Lane Farm.

In this week's cooking segment, learn how simple it is to make Greek Yogurt from chef Tressa Yellig of Salt Fire and Time. To find out more about this series of interviews with local food producers, and to get some terrific recipes featuring the ingredients discussed, consider a free subscription.

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