Rich Larson has been in the dairy business since he was a youth.
“I grew up on a dairy farm in Connecticut, but my wife and I came to Vermont in 1975. The family farm was slated for development, and Vermont was the ‘land of opportunity,’” says Larson.
After working as a herdsman on a farm in Rutland and later renting a small farm, Rich and Cynthia purchased their own farm in Wells where they could raise their eight children. Forty years later, their milking herd is smaller, but their business is growing.
On May 16th, Larson Farm & Creamery received a $19,980 Working Lands grant, funded by Ski Vermont, to launch a new product line of value-added dairy products, including organic gelato, butter, yogurt and skyr.
“Our Agriculture Viability market study suggested this is a great time to launch new products,” says Rich. “We hope to be the first 100% grass-fed cow-to-cup certified organic farmstead offering gelato in Vermont.”
Larson Farm is a 35-cow, 100% grass-fed, organic Jersey dairy. The Larsons currently market their milk directly to consumers and sell excess milk to a high-end cheese maker. The Larsons hope the addition of value-added products will increase profitability.
Although the Larsons have already established much of the groundwork for their new line of products, including the addition of a creamery, they believe the Working Lands Grant will help them refine and enhance their new product offerings.
“We are so grateful for the Working Lands program,” says Rich. “We are in a critical stage of our business growth, with no solid cash flow from our new products yet. We recognize the need for some additional consultation for product development and marketing. We couldn’t do it without the grant.”
The Larsons are enthusiastic about building a sustainable farming business, but also about exercising true stewardship of the land, soil, and animals.
“We believe our service to the world is to provide the highest quality of food to nourish bodies. In doing so, we hope it will help all of us think a little better about the world,” says Cynthia.
Ultimately, the Larsons hope to grow their business, maintain its viability, and provide employment opportunity for other Vermonters.
“Our real passion is to keep our farm in farming for the next generation, whether it is through our children or someone else,” says Rich.