Dairy farmers and interested consumers swarmed Radiance Dairy near Fairfield, Iowa, to see how cheese is made and to learn about a dairy that grows forage, milks cows and processes the milk on the farm before delivering it as milk, cream, yogurt and cheese to local supermarkets and restaurants.
The event was sponsored by Practical Farmers of America (PFI) and hosted by Francis and Susan Thicke, Radiance Dairy owners. Francis Thicke is a Food and Society Policy Fellow, a fellowship program administered by the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute in partnership with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, with primary support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. PFI was a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Integrated Farming Systems initiative grantee. The field day on the Thickes’ farm was one of PFI’s 2003 Farm Field Days where farmers and interested non-farmers could gather and learn about particular sustainable farming practices. The Thickes operate a 65-cow, organic, grass-based dairy.
Attendees came from more than 17 Iowa counties and from as far away as Missouri, Wisconsin and New Mexico. Many, such as Pat Sullivan of Capitan, N.M., were interested in learning how to add cheese making to their dairy farm operations. Sullivan has 15 Ayrshire cows.
Del Christensen of Adel, Iowa, represented PFI at the Field Day. “We’re trying to connect like-minded people, especially people looking for more diversification and sustainable agriculture. We have twelve Farm Field Days a year from spring through fall. We have over 700 members throughout the state, and continue to grow. Over 50 percent of our members are not farmers but consumers.”
For information about Practical Farmers of Iowa, visit their Web site at: www.pfi.iastate.edu. For information about Francis Thicke and the Food and Society Policy Fellowship program, visit www.foodandsocietyfellows.org.