Brookfield is a quaint Vermont small town with a population of about 1,200, and is home to the famed and often photographed Brookfield Floating Bridge. The town is also home to Sprague Ranch, a small dairy farm (relatively speaking) with a huge impact in their local community.
Dating back to 1864, John Keith Sprague bought the farmhouse, land, and barns for $2,300. Over the next 155 years, the farm would grow, advance and innovate. Today, the farm milks 600 cows. The Sprague Ranch has been caring for its animals and land since 1864.
Keith and his wife Chelsea are the fifth generation of Sprague’s to operate the farm. With a background in engineering, Keith is the resident handy-man and crop expert. Sprague Ranch utilizes cover crops, as well as no-till field management for their 1,200 acres, which eliminates the need to stir up the soil before planting. This practice helps keep plant-roots in place, helps the soil hold more water, and reduces runoff. With such a focus on water quality in Vermont, dairy farmers like the Sprague’s value their role in protecting local waterways like the Sunset Brook which flows past the farm.
The Sprague Ranch is unique, the 2005 Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year, it’s one of several family dairy farms in the Central Vermont area that sends their milk directly to Booth Brothers Dairy, a local Vermont dairy processor. The Sprague milk makes the short journey north up Route 14 to the Booth plant in Barre where it’s pasteurized, bottled and distributed to local stores.
Protecting, maintaining, and enhancing our working landscape – this is the role of Vermont dairy farmers like the Spragues. They create jobs and support businesses, produce healthy dairy foods year-round, and protect our environment – dairy farms are closely intertwined with Vermont’s legacy, and will continue to drive this state forward.
The Sprague family enjoys welcoming visitors to the farm. In 2019 they hosted over 1,000 people for Vermont Breakfast on the Farm.