Nestled along the borders with New Hampshire and Canada sits the Northeast Kingdom – one of Vermont’s hidden gems. An area composed of Orleans, Essex and Caledonia Counties, it’s a part of Vermont that feels more rural, more wild than other patches of the Green Mountain State. It’s an area known for its outdoor landscape and recreational opportunities. These qualities are made possible in part by those dairy farmers.
Just a few miles from Newport’s city center, Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm is home to nearly 1,000 dairy cows. Whether it’s a warm summer day, or a chilly winter evening – walk into any one of their barns and you’ll find the herd of Holsteins, those black and white ladies, resting comfortably. Look back to 1957 when the farm was first started by Lois and Maurice Maxwell, and progress through the years – no matter how many cows, or the level of technology – cow comfort and animal welfare were always top priorities for the Maxwell family.
Today, the farm is in the hands of the third generation. Matt and his wife Megan continue the legacy of those who came before them. The two, alongside their team of dedicated employees are utilizing practices and technologies that allow them to take better care of their cows, improve their soils, and protect our environment. Being a sustainable farm is one of their biggest priorities.
It’s no surprise that cows make manure, a lot of it – on the Maxwell Farm, manure is a resource, not a waste product. Thanks to their methane digester, the farm is able to convert their cow manure into energy for the farm and local homes, and liquid fertilizer for their 2,000 acres of corn and hay. Heat produced from the digester helps keep their greenhouse warm, where they grow vegetables to be sold to the local community.
The farm works extensively with local partners like the Natural Resource Conservation Service to improve their field management practices. The Maxwell’s, like many farms in Vermont, utilize cover crops which keep a growing plant on the fields all year long, soaking up nutrients, and preventing runoff into local waterways.
While the farm has grown, it remains a family farm. Matt’s grandparents (Lois and Maurice) still live in the farmhouse, just yards from the barns. Even the youngest Maxwell’s help with daily chores. It was the family’s dedication to animals, land, community and quality products that helped them become Vermont’s 2002 Dairy Farm of the Year.
The farm itself is a part of a bigger family. Each day two tanker trucks of milk leave the farm headed towards the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, now merged with Dairy Farmers of America. The St. Albans Co-op celebrated their 100-year anniversary in 2019, and 100 years of farmers producing healthy, wholesome milk to feed a growing world.
In 2019 the farm also hosted Vermont Breakfast on the Farm for more than 1,000 people to showcase their commitment to their animals, environment and community.