Unconventional farmers tend to like to prove that the impossible is possible. The word "can't" is simply not a member of their vocabulary. In the high mountain pastures of Sue and Melvyn Brown's farm near Belgrade, Montana a beautiful interplay of passion, frolicking animals, and a closed nutrient cycle is being carried out with delectable cheeses and pork as the end results. They are proving the naysayers wrong.
First the Brown's started a commercial goat dairy in Montana, the first of it's kind. Then they built a cheese plant where they produce an array of soft cheeses when no one else in the state would. Then they got it all certified organic because that is their belief system of how animals should be raised and the land stewarded. However, they still did not have a productive way to utilize all of the whey that is a product of cheese-making. So they then added pastured pigs to turn the whey into meat which they sell in stores around Montana. They also have figured out how to turn their animal manure (that which isn't deposited directly onto the fields) into a high-quality organic compost that backyard gardeners and organic farmers both utilize. This is a great example of what is called "complimentary enterprises".
Amaltheia Organic Dairy grows almost all of their own hay and grains in addition to the pastures that the animals rotate around on. This helps to reduce their feed costs and also reduces their dependency on the transcontinental shipping of feed grains that many other livestock producers require. They have restored riparian habitat on their farm and are eagerly exploring renewable energy technologies that will increase their sustainability. They have won awards for their ecologically-friendly, low-waste practices and for their delicious cheeses. The Brown's are also committed educators, hosting over 1,500 people a year on their farm, many of them schoolchildren.
Listen to this 45 minute interview with Melvyn Brown to hear more about how they got started, navigating all of the layers of regulations, and more. Perhaps it will give you a few ideas to 'ferment on'!
Photos above courtesy of Sue & Melvyn Brown from their website- www.amaltheiadairy.com