Sidehill Farm

Farm/Brand HeadquartersHawley, MA
ProductsYogurt, fluid milk
Market AreaNew England and New York
Total Score1430

A farm, by definition, is a departure from nature — it is land taken from its wild state and turned to human ends. But it is possible for a farm to learn from natural systems, to work with mother nature and integrate her patterns. This is the soul of organic agriculture; it is also a practical way to produce high quality food while building soil and conserving the habitat and biodiversity that come with well-managed open land. No farm will ever approach the ecological sophistication of nature, because the balance of activity is focused on the needs of our one species. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take good care — and a little better care every year, as we learn, and learn. This is organics at its best — good stewardship of the various communities that overlap to create a farm.

At Sidehill Farm, we are constantly improving our systems, so that they flow more directly from the examples we see in nature. We resist quick fixes like antibiotics and organically approved pesticides that ameliorate short-term problems while hiding or creating deeper issues. We select for plants and animals that balance productivity with ruggedness and adaptability. We work with and foster the various microclimates found on our farm. We are mildly obsessed with soil and the density of life within it. We select and develop technologies that respect natural systems and use energy efficiently. And we are amazed at how much better we can always do, how much we have to learn.

Sidehill Farm Yogurt is certified organic by Baystate Organic Certifiers, but that is the short version of a longer answer. For a long time, we joked that we would never certify the food we produce because the National Organic Program isn‘t strict enough to acknowledge how we farm. More seriously, we believe that farming organically is a management decision; but certifying organic is a marketing decision. We are blessed with local customers who enjoy our food and know us by name and face. They know they are welcome to stop by the farm anytime, and observe our management practices. They have given us one of the most precious things a farm can earn from it‘s customers: their trust.

TOTAL (possible score is 1600 plus extra credit)1430
5-Cow Rating | Top-Rated—Beyond Organic
Ownership structure100Family farm
Milk Supply95Farmstead dairy, plus buys milk from neighbors
Organic Production100100% organic
Disclosure of Information for Verification100Full disclosure
Organic Certification100Baystate
Other Labels/Standards0None
Grass-fed7070% grass-fed
Soy Free Ration?No
Pasture100Excellent pasture compliance
Times Milked90Two times a day (standard protocol on legitimate organic dairies)
Cull/death Rate100Very low cull rate
Replacements100Closed herd
Calves80Some calves raised on nanny cows
Antibiotic Use100No antibiotic use
Hormone Usage100No hormones used
Farm Support95Lives on premises, visits neighbors regularly
Procurement of Ingredients100No outside ingredients used
Extra Credit0None