While we've stayed close to home this summer, a few weeks ago, our family got to go on a special trip. We were invited by Horizon Organic to visit one of their local dairy farms in New Tripoli, PA. We were joined by awesome local bloggers, Jo-Lynne, Melissa, Brandi and Trina. I was't sure what to expect from our trip, as I'd never really visited a dairy farm before (not counting that one time in preschool), let alone one that was organic.
Let me tell you: I was really impressed by how much I learned that day.
I could spend a lot of time spouting facts to you, giving details about the process, blah blah blah. Farmer Barry (whose farm and home we visited) and the Horizon Organic Team (comprised of Stephanie, Hillary, Liz and Cowboy Tom. Seriously. He was a total cowboy. See pics below) did an amazing job of defining what an organic dairy farm was, why it was better to drink organic milk and the rigorous process a farm goes through to be organic. Amazing.
But I'm simple, and when it comes to what I am eating, those things fall to the periphery. What I was left with from that day were snapshots of a lifestyle, both from the farm and from the corporation. Here are a few of the things I took away from that day:
1) Organic Farming is no joke. Seriously. There are strict stipulations to become an organic farm (it takes a farm 3 years to have their fields and cows ready for organic dairy farming). The farm fields have to be certified, so what the cows are eating is organic. And the cows are nurtured organically as well (like if they get sick, they can't be given just any medicine).
2) Organic farmers are awesome. Farmer Barry (whom Little Chica still talks about to this day, and it's been over a month since our visit) lives and works on his farm. His house is literally across from the fields the cows graze in, and next to where the cows live. Barry was so excited to have us, and he truly treated us like family. He opened his home to us (which was nice, since it was a 2-hour car trip, and potty breaks were necessary), asked about our lives (he loved that Hubby was a home brewer), and gave our kiddos free reign of his farm (particularly the animals). Meeting Barry made a corporate brand of milk suddenly personal. When I see the Horizon Organic milk cartons in the store, I am brought back to the farm: kids scurrying after chickens, Farmer Barry laughing, feeding newborn calves a bottle, and fields and fields of green grass and brown earth.
3) The Horizon Organic Dairy team is awesome. While Liz oversees operations locally, Stephanie, Hillary and Cowboy Tom flew in from Colorado to be part of the tour. Here's what I loved: these people loved their jobs. Seriously. I spent some time walking and talking with Stephanie and Hilary while Farmer Barry gave us a tour of the fields (and did some poop dissection, which the kids loved). I asked them about their jobs, how long they've worked for the company, etc. And they were so eager to share their love for who Horizon Organic Dairy is and what Horizon Organic Dairy does. Neither of them set out to work for the company initially, but it was clear that it did not take long for them to embrace what their company is all about. They also rocked awesome Horizon Organic Dairy tee-shirts that I was super jealous of. Cowboy Tom has worked for the company for a while, and had such a wealth of knowledge about productions. You could tell he took to heart his job of overseeing all of these dairy farms. When employees love a company, that is telling you a lot.
4) Kids love Horizon Organic Milk. This is proof generated from years and years of research. And the large quantity of empty Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk boxes leftover from the lunch Horizon Organic generously provided for us.
5) Philly has some really great bloggers. Even though I've been blogging for a few years, I've never really gotten to meet many of the Philly Social Media Moms. It was fun to spend the day with some bloggers I love reading and really look up to (even if we were distracted with milk facts and kid chaos).
All in all a great and educational day. It definitely encouraged me to think more about what food I am eating and where that food comes from. Many thanks to the Horizon Organic team as well as Farmer Barry Byler for hosting a great tour, a tasty lunch and giving me wrinkles in my brain.
Here are some pics from the trip (once again, taken with my stinky cell phone camera. Canon? Please?):
|The Byler's dairy farm|
|Farmer Barry: the great storyteller|
|Stephanie and Hillary: Team Horizon|
|Cowboy Tom, Farmer Barry and Liz|
|Taking a walk around the fields|
|Kiddos loving the baby cows|
|Farmer Barry feeding a newborn calf|
|Seen on a silo. Just in case you were considering it...|
|Fine organic dairy cows|
|Big farm machines driven by Farmer Barry's son, Bubba|
|Farmer Barry teaching the kids about the importance of bugs in cow poop.|
|The man could captivate a room on the subject of cow droppings|
|Little Chica diligently searching for cow patties under the direction of Farmer Barry.|
|Little Chica dissecting a cow pattie with Farmer Barry. |
She was the only girl to do so.
We're so proud.
Disclosure: I was provided a gift card to cover travel costs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not paid for this post.