By Tara Kelly
For years people living in Rutland have had to drive as far as Castleton or Tinmouth to buy their milk. Why? If a person wanted to follow family tradition and/or had a preference for farm fresh (raw and unpasteurized) milk – the only legal way they could get that milk was to go to a farm that sold it.
Over the past decade, the state of Vermont has undergone a major shift in how it regulates the sale of raw milk. Previous to now, sales have been hampered in part by rules that were outdated and restricted of farm sales and deliveries. But thanks to advocacy groups such as Rural Vermont, things have started to change.
New legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2014 now allows people to get farm fresh milk at farmers markets. There are a few tricks / small hoops to jump through along the way. But the convenience provided by this service will be a big improvement for those who once trekked out to a farm to pick it up directly.
Here’s how it works. A person interested in purchasing milk for pick up at a farmers market will need to pay a visit to the farm from which they intend to purchase. Customers then need to pre-order the milk for pick up at the market – no buying on the spot. These two requirements satisfy the state’s intent that a purchaser of raw milk be fully informed about the conditions of the farm from which they are purchasing the milk. The reason for this “precaution” is that for every person who swears by the high nutrition content and quality of farm fresh milk, another person is convinced that unpasteurized milk is potentially harmful. The legislation has strived to find a balance between these opposing viewpoints.
Currently, thanks to Larson Farm in Wells, customers can get their milk at Rutland’s Winter Farmers Market on Saturdays or Dorset’s Winter Farmers Market on Sundays. Larson Farm, run by Cynthia and Rich Larson, is a family operated farm with a small herd of Jersey dairy cows. A visitor will find a well-kept barn powered by solar panels and a clear concern for keeping the milk clean and delicious. Aside from the stunning views on their property, customers will also find a variety of other farm fresh products such as eggs and meat available.
“The new law pushed forward by Rural Vermont, is a major move toward more consumer choice,” notes Rich Larson. “Our raw milk is nutritious and delicious with all the good enzymes that assist in digestion. Informed, health-conscious people are catching on to the benefits of unpasteurized milk, and now it is much more convenient to pick it up at the local farmers market.”
Rich and Cynthia, as well as their daughter Mercy, are passionate about bringing a high quality product to customers. They will be personally attending the markets, meeting their customers, and sharing information about their farm.
Our family lives within a 15 minute drive of this farm, so we’ve been enjoying their milk for years. Our kids drink it regularly (and that of Thomas Dairy, which we also buy) and I enjoy it in my morning coffee on a daily basis.
I already buy 2 gallons a week, but I may need to start getting more. After attending the Fermentation Festival RAFFL co-sponsored this past weekend, I now have a simple recipe for making yogurt that was shared by Leslie Silver and Michael Beattie who have been making yogurt at their home for years. They made it seem so easy. I can’t wait to give it a try!
Needed: milk, thermometer, yogurt culture (either from a live culture yogurt or a starter packet)
Heat milk to 180°F. Let the milk cool to 116°F (Leslie and Michael did this by putting the pan in an ice bath for a couple of minutes). Pour milk into a glass jar. Add starter (either a few tablespoons of live-cultured yogurt or a packet of starter that can be purchased). Keep covered and at 116°F for at least 6 hours (Leslie and Michael did this by putting the jar into a small cooler along with a couple of bottles of very hot water and then setting the cooler aside).
Yogurt made this way is not too thick. If thicker yogurt is desired, a thickener such as dry powdered milk, could be added as milk is heating in the first step.
Tara Kelly is the Executive Director for Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL).
Originally published in the Rutland Herald.