The Dairying for Tomorrow Awards, sponsored by American Dairy Association North East, are designed to recognize local dairy farms that have taken their level of care and commitment one step further into the future of dairy farming.

Dairy farmers were recognized in three key categories: Animal Care, Community Outreach and Environmental Stewardship.

The overall winners in each category received a $1,000 prize in their farm’s name that is donated to either a local school district to provide portable coolers or other equipment to keep dairy products fresh, or to a local food bank where the funds will provide fresh milk and dairy foods to families in the region. Honorable mention winners received a $500 prize.

Read on to learn more about our 2021 Dairying for Tomorrow Award winner and honorable mention farm families!

 

Animal Care

Overall Winner: Zimmerman’s HillTop Dairy – Danville, Pennsylvania
Zimmerman farmers holding a sign

At Zimmerman’s HillTop Dairy, farm owner Merle Zimmerman uses modern technology to maintain cow comfort and efficiency on the 400-cow dairy, including fans, sprinklers and automated curtains to keep cows cool. He also uses pedometers and ear monitoring tags to routinely assess animal health.

“Cow comfort is top priority on our dairy. Our team is committed to making sure we take excellent care of our animals with comfortable bedding, top quality feed and water, and the use of technology to keep things running smoothly,” says Zimmerman of his Montour County dairy farm.

 

Honorable Mention: Spruce Haven, LLC – Union Springs, New York

Man standing next to a Spruce Haven Farm sign

Spruce Haven Farm is an advocate of technology to manage and track cow health, including use of neck tags to monitor reproductive cycles, ear tags that monitor the cows’ digestive systems, and an identification system that shows which stall a cow is in. The farm also conducts weekly testing and nutrition analysis to allow for ongoing improvements to the feed rations the cows consume. State Senator Pam Helming recently visited the farm and presented Doug Young with a New York State Senate Proclamation recognizing Spruce Haven Farm’s dairy innovations and 30-plus years of success.

“Outstanding animal care is at the heart of what we do,” said farm owner Doug Young. “Our cows lead a pampered life, with a dedicated staff who make sure each one has comfortable bedding, well-balanced diets, and plenty of fresh clean water. I’m thankful for our team and the work we do at Spruce Haven.”

Honorable Mention: Hemsarth Dairy, LLC – Millville, Pennsylvania

Family holding a Hemsarth Dairy sign

With a 200-cow robotic dairy farm, Hemsarth Dairy has always been on the forefront of innovative technology and progressive dairy farming. A broad range of interests outside of farming gives them different approaches to solve on farm issues. Farm owner Greg Hemsarth developed a thermoregulated milk warmer for calf feeding using home brewing technology as a guide. The farm also received a Center for Dairy Excellence grant earlier this year to convert part of the barn from conventional sawdust bedded mattress to deeply bedded stalls with dry manure solids.

“We know the cows like it, as they are more likely to lie down on that side of the barn,” said Hemsarth. “Keeping cows comfortable is a key factor in making quality milk, so our focus is doing everything we can to take care of them. That’s also part of the reason we installed cow-friendly robotic milkers a few years ago.”

Community Outreach

Overall Winner: Maple Bottom Farm – Dawson, Pennsylvania
Family of farmers standing with a calf in a sunflower field

Located in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, dairy farm owners Mike and Vickie Baker operate a bed & breakfast, farm store, farm camps and farm-to-table dinners. Vickie Baker looks to provide opportunities to experience life on the farm. Maple Bottom Farm also hosts in-person and virtual farm tours throughout the year. Virtual farm tours allow teachers to sign up classrooms to view a live tour of a dairy farm hosted so students can learn how farmers care for their cows, communities, and the environment.

“It’s important for people to feel good about where their food comes from,” says Baker. “Hosting activities that invite the community to our farm is a great way for them to learn about how we sustainably produce milk and care for the environment. During COVID, we opened a sunflower field that was visited by 8,000 people.”

Honorable Mention: Rocky Point Creamery/Farm – Tuscarora, Maryland

The owners of Rocky Point Farm/Creamery actively seek opportunities to educate and showcase dairy in a positive light. Rocky Point gets almost 10,000 visitors annually to its on-farm store, nature trails, ice cream shop and sunflower field which raises money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The farm hosts tours, field trips and virtual tours to show dairy’s impact locally. The farm even included a viewing room when they installed robotic milkers to help teach the public about how the milk goes from cow to product.

“We like to say we are a Cow to Cone operation”, says Operating Partner Emily Snyder. “We grow the crops that feed the cows and then that milk is made into delicious ice cream. Our family is committed to treating the land we farm, and the cows we raise with care and respect.”

Honorable Mention: Pleasant Lane Farms – Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Along with school, student and community groups, Pleasant Lane Farms gives tours to legislators, military groups, Boy Scouts and more. Tours feature updates and information about dairy technology and cow comfort by showing attendees a robotic milking parlor and the “Smart Barn” which allows automated control of lighting and ventilation and tracks the movements and needs of the farm’s 40 milking cows. Using active social media channels, the owners and staff post upbeat video clips, live streams from the farm and offer unique farm story tasting opportunities to build strong connections with community members looking for local sources of food.

“We are excited and proud to show off our farm and the investments we have made in technology to care for our cows,” says owner Jason Frye. “Our barn doors are always open to folks who want to see how our cows spend their days.”

Environmental Stewardship

Overall Winner: Will-O-Crest Farms LLC – Clifton Springs, New York

Will-O-Crest has been an early adopter of sustainable practices. When the farm was purchased in 1976, the fields had been fully tilled. By the 80’s, farm owner Bill Young had switched to minimum tillage along with routinely testing the soil and planting cover crops. Today, all-row crops and small grains are no-tilled or strip tilled and all open ground is cover cropped utilizing no-till, resulting in a reduction of soil erosion and nutrient needs.

“Sustainable farming is a mindset not a practice,” according to Bill Young.  “My wife Barb and I have established stewardship and integrity as core values and have instilled these priorities in the next generation and generations to come. Sustainable thinking has reached into the cow side of the business by as our goal is to create moderate sized, long lasting and feed efficient cows. As new technology and tools arise in the future, Will-O-Crest will continue to adopt sustainable practices and be ever improving our footprint.”

Honorable Mention: Bloss Farms LLC – Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania

Owner Jeff Bloss graduated from Penn State with a degree in agroecosystems science and employs practices including no-till farming, cover-crop planting and strip cropping to prevent soil erosion and improve soil health. The farm’s conservation efforts help to sustainably produce high-quality milk – some of which goes into making Milkhouse Creamery ice cream.  Bloss Farms has been actively involved in the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Stewardship Program since 2015. The stewardship program allows farms to go above and beyond conservation that helps promote soil health, water quality, air, plants, animals, and wildlife.

“The staff at our local Farm Service Agency office reminds me that I’ve been talking about being a dairy farmer since I used to visit the office with my dad as a little boy,” said Jeff Bloss. “I’m proud of the work we do on our farm to ensure we take the best care of our land and water, as well as the animals in our care.”

Honorable Mention: Stronghaven Farm, LLC – Barton, New York

Recognized for its efforts to protect local waterways including the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Stronghaven Farm employs practices including no-till farming, cover crop planting and tile drainage to reduce phosphorus runoff and minimize soil erosion. The Strong family works closely with the Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District to implement techniques to protect waterways and helps to teach other farms their best practices. One judge noted the farm used a “great mix of practices going beyond the conventional which are all important in the Susquehanna River watershed.”

“We’ve been farming here for three generations, and we plan to continue,” said Matthew Strong. “Taking care of the land and water is important to us, which is why we work with partners like the Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District.”

Congratulations to all the 2021 Dairying for Tomorrow Award winners!