Central New York’s Twin Birch Dairy Honored for Outstanding Leadership in the Dairy Community

(SKANEATELES, NEW YORK — April 22, 2020) — The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, established under the leadership of dairy farmers and leading companies, announced its annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award winners during the Dairy Sustainability Alliance® Virtual Spring Meeting on April 22, 2020.

Twin Birch Dairy in Skaneateles, N.Y., was named a winner in the “Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainabilityâ€_x009d_ category for overall environmental stewardship in the Finger Lakes region. The awards recognize dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet. Winners in the Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability category are leaders in socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally sound dairy production and exemplify a longstanding commitment to continuous improvement.

With a country club in its backyard and million-dollar lakefront homes just miles away, Twin Birch Dairy is nestled in an environmentally sensitive area between Skaneateles and Owasco Lakes. The two watersheds supply drinking water to more than 400,000 people in the two largest cities in Central New York — Syracuse and Auburn — and the surrounding areas. Owner Dirk Young has been a leader in implementing on-farm practices that protect the surrounding water for drinking and recreation.

Young, along with partners Todd Evans and Jeremy Brown, volunteered the farm for a water monitoring study conducted by the Owasco Watershed Lake Association (OWLA), a community organization focused on identifying strategies to restore and improve water quality and provide community education on protecting the Lake. The study found that Twin Birch Dairy’s environmental practices are having a significant effect — showing that water quality immediately downstream of Twin Birch Dairy was generally equal to, if not slightly better, than the upstream water quality. To Young, this data is an important validation of the farm’s efforts.

“I have never been afraid of following the science and coming up with solutions,â€_x009d_ says Young.

Innovation at Twin Birch Dairy began more than 20 years ago, shortly after doubling its herd size for the second time in a decade. In what originally began as a way to decrease farm-related odor for neighbors, a remote manure storage site was built on the property. A separator that divides manure solids from liquids was added; liquids go to the storage site and solids are recycled for cow bedding.

Ultimately, those practices led to Twin Birch becoming among the first farms in New York to commission an anaerobic digester in 2003. Today, it is still the only one operating in Onondaga County. Beyond the benefits for energy savings, an anaerobic digester has other environmental benefits as well. The end products can be used as cow bedding, recycled into the land or sold to landscapers.

According to Mark Burger, Program Manager of the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program, “Per the City of Syracuse’s Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural program, Twin Birch Farms leads by example and sets the bar higher for environmental goals, herd health and community relations.â€_x009d_

Running a productive farm that is also environmentally and community focused is clearly a top priority for the farm, which is exemplified in Twin Birch Dairy’s mission statement: “Twin Birch Dairy, LLC will strive to operate an environmentally friendly dairy farm business that will provide a good livelihood for its principals as well as its employees. We will run our business in a manner that is perceived by our neighbors and the community as an asset to the area.â€_x009d_

Looking to the future, Twin Birch Dairy will continue to use existing and new sustainability practices to ensure the dairy’s continuation for generations to come.

Says Young, “We also live in this community. I want and need the respect of the whole area to truly be successful.â€_x009d_


Contact: Greg Szklany
Phone: (315) 729-1722
Email: GSzklany@milk4u.org