Paul and Maureen Knapp’s farm, Cobblestone Valley Enterprises, is nestled in the small central New York community of Preble, 20 miles south of Syracuse, sitting on a 600-acre site that’s been in the Knapp family for four generations. They converted their conventional dairy to organic in 2000. Maureen and Paul and their three sons, milk 75 cows twice daily. The cows enjoy grazing on 95 acres of rich pasture land. The transition to organic has meant a much gentler and happier life for the cows.
Although the dairy business is the backbone of the Knapp’s operation, the family began diversifying their operation by direct marketing meats within the past several years. They started out with pastured poultry and eggs, and gradually added beef and pork. The Knapps already had an established certified organic “pick your own” strawberries business.
Maureen says it is important to them to have a synergistic effect from the different enterprises on the farm. She notes that multi-species grazing assists with fly and parasite control as well as improving pastures with different types of manure. Composting is their newest venture. Maureen successfully wrote grants to fund their project and established a local compost collaborative.
The move to organic has been a good one for the Knapps. Although they felt the transition to organic was difficult at the time, they couldn’t be happier with the results now. The secret ingredients in Maureen and Paul Knapp's special family farm recipe are a generous cup of gratitude and a hearty handful of positive thinking. All they have done to create this haven, abundant with delicious organic food, beautiful flowers, thriving plant life, contented animals, and happy people, they have come to instinctively, trusting the progress to unfold naturally. "When you are open to learning new things, and ask for what you need to know, it appears. Usually for me, it's by the next day," Maureen says.