Explore the work we are doing, told through the stories of the people who make up the Wolfe's Neck community.
New England Dairy Farmers Face Uncertainty
Wolfe’s Neck Center was disappointed to learn of Danone North America’s decision to end the contracts of 89 organic milk producers in New England, including 14 family farms in Maine. Danone, which operates the Horizon Organic brand, recently decided to move away from New England as part of a cost-cutting consolidation. This blow will have devasting effects on Maine’s organic dairy sector, as well as other economic implications across the region. It is disheartening to think of the potential consequences on these farms’ soils, which have been managed for biodiversity and carbon health.  
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A Ride to the Past
On Saturday, September 18, 2021 I hopped aboard the history wagon ride offered through Wolfe’s Neck Center’s community & visitor programs, hoping to learn more about the history of this land and its people. In my communications role on Wolfe’s Neck Center’s team, it is my responsibility to help tell the stories of the current-day farm, but of course, so much of the present has deep ties to our past. 
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MAPSS Annual Field Workshop
MAPSS recently held their annual field workshop at Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, so we tagged along to see what they were up to! Forty members and soil scientists descended on the property to assess soil pits that had been excavated in our pastures, in our campground, and in Wolfe's Neck State Park. The workshop focused on soil parent materials, human-altered or human-transported materials, and hydric soil characteristics and determinations. 
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Meet the Newest Member of OpenTEAM
Sienna Zuco joins us in the role of OpenTEAM's Communications & Membership Coordinator. This new role will help share OpenTeam's work and vision to Wolfe's Neck Center's audiences and beyond. Growing up in North Carolina, Sienna felt lucky to be surrounded by local foods, good southern cooking, and such a beautiful environment. She lived just a few hours from both the beach and the mountains; two of the things she has found in Maine thus far, and then some! 
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“Why Did You Move to Maine?”
Ben Gotschall, Wolfe's Neck Center's dairy and livestock manager, made the trek from Nebraska to Maine in November 2020. Soon after, he was joined by his wife, Tammy, and their daughter, Charlotte. In May 2021, his herd of cattle made the 1,800-mile journey to Freeport, as well. In a piece written for Field Notes, our annual print and online newsletter, Ben shared his thoughts on what the relocation meant for him, his family, and his cows. 
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(Re)Vision the Future of Solar
In 2017, ReVision Energy installed two large solar projects on Wolfe’s Neck Center’s campus: one at the dairy facility and the other at the Pote Barn, making us 50% solar powered. With a new operations center currently under construction and more infrastructure projects on the horizon, our end goal is to be entirely solar-powered.
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Meet Our Fruit & Vegetable Apprentices
Wolfe’s Neck Center’s Fruit & Vegetable Farmer Training Program is a unique apprenticeship program that covers all aspects of organic fruit & vegetable crop production with a focus on regenerative agriculture techniques.
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A Deeper Dig: Soil Health
Climate change threatens the health of our planet and jeopardizes our ability to grow food. At Wolfe’s Neck Center, we are committed to creating solutions to these problems to build a healthier planet for our future generations. A Deeper Dig aims to highlight terminology, practices, and ideas, both in our backyard and globally, through monthly…
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Meet Our New Dairy Team Members
This spring, we welcomed two new faces to the Wolfe's Neck dairy team. Kate Sabino is part of the dairy apprentice program, while Ursula Murray-Bozeman joins us as an intern. Learn more about them...
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A Deeper Dig: Regenerative Agriculture
You have likely heard the term regenerative agriculture and while it may seem new like a new buzzword, regenerative farming practices have been around for thousands of years. In many ways, it is a return to the way farming used to be, and is focused on restoring soils that have been degraded by the industrial agricultural system. Its methods promote healthier ecosystems by rebuilding soil organic matter.
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An Uncertain Future 

Wolfe’s Neck Center is disappointed to learn of Danone North America’s decision to end the contracts of 89 organic milk producers in New England, including 14 family farms in Maine. Danone, which operates the Horizon Organic brand, recently announced they would move away from New England in late 2022 as part of a cost-cutting consolidation. This decision could have lasting effects on these families, the communities where they live, Maine’s organic dairy sector, as well as other economic implications across the region.  

The dairy sector relies upon strength in numbers and scale; this is especially true of the organic dairy sector in Maine. Our state does not have the types of sprawling dairy farms that exist in other regions of the country. Maine has a rich dairy history but the recent trend towards fewer, larger farms is not conducive to the state. Unfortunately, Danone is one of multiple producers who have moved away from the region, primarily because it likely costs them less to purchase their milk from one larger farm (500+ cows) than it does from several smaller farms (<150 cows). These 89 Northeast producers may have very few viable options come August 2022. Organic Valley and Stonyfield have both stated that they are committed to doing everything possible to keep these dairy farms in the northeast from going out of business, but it is unclear how many of these farms these two companies will be able to take on. Some farms may choose to switch to corn or hay production or be forced to retire and sell off their assets. The ripple effect will be felt across the region as it impacts other industries and producers.  

An Ally in Stonyfield 

In 2014, Stonyfield Organic led the founding of Wolfe’s Neck Center’s Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program. The training program, a two-year residential apprenticeship, was the first of its kind in the nation, and was formed to increase the number of organic dairy farmers entering the industry. With the aging population of organic dairy farmers, Stonyfield knew it was important for them to play a leading role in sustaining and rebuilding organic dairy in the United States. Since then, Stonyfield has continued their commitment to Wolfe’s Neck Center and the future of dairy in this region. In 2019, Stonyfield helped WNC to launch OpenTEAM, a first of its kind technology platform that will provide farmers around the world with the best possible knowledge to help them improve soil health. In 2020, as part of WNC’s OpenTEAM project, Stonyfield launched a pilot program with five farms aimed at using regenerative practices and incorporating the outcome measurement and data collection tools developed by OpenTEAM partners. Since then, they have expanded to include 10 dairy producers in the Northeast, encompassing 5,000 acres.

Taking Action 

Wolfe’s Neck Center’s executive director Dave Herring is currently taking part in a working group organized by the state of Maine to identify ways that the community and government can support the farms who are affected by Danone’s announcement, and to identify action items to strengthen the resiliency of the future of Maine’s dairy sector.  

This past Thursday, Wolfe’s Neck Center hosted the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance’s 21st Annual Field Day. Maine Governor Janet Mills, who was in attendance, pledged“As the granddaughter of Aroostook County potato farmers, I know firsthand that our farmers are pragmatic, tough, resilient, and driven people. Rising before dawn to tend the fields or mind the livestock, they keep their heads down and their hands in the dirt. They work hard every day, every year, with a little grit and a whole lot of faith. My administration will do everything we can to fight for this important industry, especially our 14 farms impacted directly by Danone’s decision. We’re going to give it all we’ve got, because every dairy farm in Maine is important to our state, organic or otherwise, and is vital to our culture, our health, our environment, and to our economy as a whole.” 

As a consumer, figuring out how to support local dairy farms can be challenging, primarily because most sell to a company or cooperative, who then combines that milk with others from Maine and beyond before selling it under a label. Examples include Oakhurst, Hood, Cabot, Organic Valley, Garelick and, of course, Stonyfield. Consumers who want to support Maine dairy farms are then left to figure out which milk, cheese, and butter brands contain local dairy. Except for these 14 farms who are losing their Horizon contracts, and the exceedingly rare organic dairy farm in Maine who sells directly to their consumers (ex. Tide Mill Organic), almost all organic milk gets purchased by Organic Valley/CROPP or Stonyfield.  

For consumers who want to support local Maine organic dairy farms, their best option is to purchase Stonyfield and Organic Valley products. MOFGA also provides a great resource for sourcing certified organic foods and products in Maine. 


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