The Teagues of North Carolina, the Mahaffys of Oregon and the Beidlers of Vermont are the top three winners of the Stonyfield Organic Farmers Grant-a-Wish Program, which will fund a total of six innovative organic farming projects in the U.S. Consumers voted online for the winners after watching short videos about each one. All recipients are farmer-owners of Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative, t he organic farmers’ cooperative which has supplied Stonyfield with organic milk for more than 15 years.
“It’s exciting that consumers are taking the time to get to know the farmers who grow their food and getting involved in ways like the Grant-a-Wish Program to help organic agriculture innovate and thrive,” said Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield President and CE-Yo.
"We are very proud of the Teagues, Mahaffys and Beidlers, and all our farmer-owners who entered their sustainability projects in the Grant-a-Wish program. We thank them for all they do each and every day to further the future of organic farming,” said George Siemon, founding farmer and C-I-E-I-O of Organic Valley.
The Teagues of Guilford County, North Carolina are the recipients of Stonyfield’s top $10,000 grant, which they will use to build a new, energy efficient feed mill to process organic grains for other organic dairy farmers in the southeast, as well as livestock growers and small farmers looking for local, organic feed. Their current mill, which is the only organic feed mill in the entire state, runs primarily by hand and is slow and inefficient. In addition to giving a big boost to organic agriculture in the region, George and Cherry Teague, who run the farm with their son Taylor, hope the new mill will help keep the next generation of Teagues on the farm. The Teagues have been Organic Valley farmer-owners since 2007.
Tied for second place grants of $7,500 each are the Beidlers of Vermont and the Mahaffys of Oregon.
Brent and Regina Beidler and their daughter Erin, of Randolph Center, Vermont, run one of the state’s few farms that grow organic grain in commercial quantities. They will use the grant funds to upgrade their antiquated seed cleaning equipment which will improve seed and flour quality, a benefit to the organic farmers who rely upon their grain. It will also help to provide increased food types to the local community, and help their farm to diversify and become more self-sufficient. The Beidlers have been Organic Valley farmer-owners since 2000.
Peter and Kelly Mahaffy of Coos Bay, Oregon will use the grant to manage odor issues involved in using waste from the local seafood processors as their primary source of fertilizer. Their efforts will involve building a covered compost shed and adding a nutrient recycling system. As a result, they will generate nutrient dense organic compost ready to be used on their fields and shared with the community. The Mahaffys have been Organic Valley farmer-owners since 2003.
Stonyfield also awarded three $2,000 grants which go to:
Jon and Juli Bansen of Monmouth, Oregon, will use the grant funds to install a walk-through flytrap that vacuums flies off their cows. Fewer flies will result in reducing stress in the cows and increasing their productivity and milk quality. The Bansens have been Organic Valley farmer-owners since June 2000.
Dana and Carol Shirk, who run a dairy farm with their five children in Tuscola County, Michigan, will use the funds to create an aquifer-fed farm pond that will support pasture irrigation and provide drinking water for their livestock. The Shirks have been Organic Valley farmer-owners since 2007.
Jerry and Dotty Snyder and their eight children steward a 400 acre grass-based 50-cow dairy in Alfred Station, New York. Their grant will help build a pond for use by a hydro-electric generator that will provide needed power throughout the farm. The Snyders have been Organic Valley farmer owners since 2002.
More than 70 organic farms applied for the Stonyfield Organic Farmer Grant-a-Wish Program. Six finalists were selected by a team of experts from Stonyfield and Organic Valley for their project’s environmental impact and ability to improve the long-term viability of organic farming. After viewing short videos describing each farmer’s project, nearly ten thousand consumers voted on-line for their first choice of grant recipient.
“The Stonyfield Organic Farmers Grant-a-Wish Program demonstrates how consumers, farmers and organic companies can partner with one another in ways that will help build and strengthen the organic community as a whole. I am proud to have been a part of this collaboration, and I salute the organic farmers who make it all possible,” said Nancy Hirshberg, vice president of natural resources for Stonyfield Farm.
For ongoing updates on the progress of each award recipient, visit Stonyfield Organic Farmers Grant-a-Wish Program on the web at www.facebook.com/stonyfieldfarm. For more information about Stonyfield Farm, visit www.stonyfield.com. For information about Organic Valley and its farmer-owners, visit www.organicvalley.coop.
Stonyfield Farm: Dedicated to Healthy Food, Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Healthy Business
Stonyfield Farm, celebrating its 27th year, is the world's leading organic yogurt company. Its certified organic yogurt, smoothies, milk, cultured soy, frozen yogurt and ice cream are distributed nationally. The company advocates that healthy food can only come from a healthy planet. Its use of organic ingredients helps keep over 180,000 farm acres free of toxic, persistent pesticides and chemical fertilizers known to contaminate soil, drinking water and food. To help reduce climate change, Stonyfield offsets all of the C02 emissions generated from its facility energy use. The company also started a nonprofit called Climate Counts (climatecounts.org) which shows people how they can help fight climate change by the way they shop and invest. Stonyfield also donates 10% of its profits to efforts that help protect and restore the Earth. For further information, visit www.stonyfield.com or follow Stonyfield on Twitter @Stonyfield and @StonyfieldBiz, and on Facebook www.facebook.com/StonyfieldFarm.
Organic Valley Family of Farms: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,617 farmers in 33 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $621 million in 2010 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, yogurt, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop, www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative's farmer website, www.farmers.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @Organic_Valley and Facebook www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.