Business Profile: Crawford Family Farm, Vermont Ayr
The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program (VFFVP) helped the Crawford Family Farm in Whiting diversify with a value-added product, Vermont Ayr. Once a traditional dairy, the farm is now putting 10 percent of its milk into cheese that is sold at several farmers’ markets and food co-ops, as well as specialty shops in Boston and New York
Cindy, Jim, and Sherry Crawford are siblings, who together run this farm that has been in their family since 1950. They’d always owned registered Ayrshires, shipping milk to a bulk handler. A decline in milk prices and a rise in expenses made the partners nervous about the future."
“We’d been thinking,” said Sherry: “What can we do here?” By chance a neighbor was interested in making cheese, and had approached the Crawfords as a source for raw milk. They began experimenting, and soon developed a smooth, Alpine-style cheese that made the most of the Ayrshire milk. But would it work as a commercial endeavor?
VFFVP helped answer that question. We brought in UVM Extension staff, an agricultural engineer, and a marketing consultant who collaborated with the Crawfords to develop a business plan. The Crawfords subsequently converted part of a barn into a cheese making facility and an aging “cave.” A Viability Program implementation grant then helped pay for a milk transport truck to bring the milk from the cow barn to the cheese room