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Organic Meadow Farm Visit

There is a feeling of ease that comes from knowing that the other humans involved in producing what we eat are happy about that participation.

My visit this September, organised by Organic Meadow and their communications firm, to the Birchwind Holstein Farm made it obvious that the Vices are happy to be organic dairy farmers. They were friendly, generous hosts that freely shared with us all facets of their operation.

This ice cream is really quite delicious.

This ice cream is really quite delicious.

Organic Meadow started in 1989 in the organic grain marketing business, added eggs in 1993, and organic milk–now their retail mainstay–in 1996. They are a co-operative of dairy farms spread across the province and are gradually adding their own processing and packaging facilities.

Having finished their (organic) lunch the cows head back out to pasture.

Having finished their (organic) lunch the cows head back out to pasture.

For farmers part of the attraction of Organic Meadow is that when the system is running at 100% utilisation they get paid a $.21 to $.22 per litre premium over the general price of milk for their production.

For consumers on top of whatever benefits they derive from going organic, Organic Meadow is one of the relatively few milk producers that pasteurises their milk at 72°C for sixteen seconds. This process, it is thought, leaves more the milks beneficial enzymes intact.

Our gracious hosts, Rob and Debbie Vice

Our gracious hosts, Rob and Debbie Vice

For Ron and Debbie Vice the long path towards becoming fully organic began in 1999 when Debbie was involved in the fight against dumping industrial waste on nearby farmland.

This mother-to-be was on the DL with a sore foot.

This mother-to-be was on the DL with a sore foot.

Since the full switch in 2003 they have only had three emergency vet calls and have found that their cows are happier. Their savings on spraying and fertilizer are complemented by spending more time using traditional means to meet on-farm challenges.

The pen for calves too young to play with the rest of the herd.

The pen for calves too young to play with the rest of the herd.

You can find out more about the Vices and Birchwind Farm from their profile page on the Oganic Meadow site. Organic Meadow has produced a music video that while it tends a bit towards the Japanese-corporate-anthem feel does demonstrate that their farmers are pretty committed to the cause:


I don’t drink a lot of milk and I’m not sure how different the price is but this is a good reminder to continue making food choices that respect the land, people,  and animals we need for its production. For many food products this is somewhat easy to do by connecting directly to the producer (who might be certified organic, “mostly-organic”, or “low-spray”) it’s just too bad that the Ontario government and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (with their distortionary quota system) continue to stand in the way of dairy consumers having this choice.

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