by Hannah Smith’15
This semester I have had the opportunity to work at Gammelgården Creamery in Pownal, VT, which is owned and operated by Stina Kutzer. Most college faculty and students probably know the farm for its Skyr, a thick Icelandic-style yogurt. My love for Skyr is what drew me to the farm, and working there has given me an entirely new insight on the operation.
All of the milk is sourced from Stina’s six-cow dairy herd. The cows are entirely grass-fed and live in a pasture with a small igloo-type tent; there is no barn. They are brought in twice a day for milking, which Stina does exclusively by hand. She hires help for the milking in the morning, but at the end of the day, the cows are still her chore. She makes sure they are all fed, balmed, and happy.
On the one hand, the small size of the operation makes it manageable. The food for the cows is sourced locally; they graze in the field in the summer and eat hay from Stina’s neighbor in the winter. In this way, Stina is very minimally connected to other markets and supply and demand chains. Stina has a lot of passion behind her work and she has established a niche market. There is high demand for her product.
High demand on a small operation presents challenges, however. There is a lot of product to make and distribute daily, on top of the work the cattle present. A small creamery compromises some of the efficiencies in the production. I anticipate that as the operation grows, it will become more efficient without compromising its commitment to distributing a high quality product.
Hannah’s internship at Gammengärden Creamery is funded by the Sustainable Food & Agriculture Program.