Sidehill Farm

Rating5
Farm/Brand HeadquartersHawley, MA
ProductsYogurt, fluid milk
Websitewww.sidehillfarm.net
Market AreaNew England and New York
DescriptionThey write: "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 micro-climates 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 Score1450
CriteriaPointsComment
TOTAL (possible score is 1600 plus extra credit) 1450
Farmstead dairies earn the most points. Corporations that have a history of skirting the organic rules receive the fewest.
Ownership structure
100Family farm
Farms that produce 100% of their milk receive the most points. Milk from "open market" or known confinement dairies receive the fewest.
Milk Supply
95Farmstead dairy, plus buys milk from neighbors
100% organic farms receive the most points. Split operations with conventional dairy on the same property receive the fewest.
Organic Production
100100% organic
Farms that completed the survey in detail received the most points.
Disclosure of Information for Verification
100Full disclosure
Points determined by integrity of the brand’s organic certifier.
Organic Certification
100Baystate
Animal Welfare Approved and Biodynamic certifications receive the most bonus points. Producers are not penalized for not having additional certifications beyond organic.
Other Labels/Standards
0None
100% grass-fed with independent verification of standards
Grass-fed
9070% grass-fed
No points are given for this but the information may be useful to certain consumers looking to avoid soy.
Soy Free Ration?
No
Sliding scale based on policies, enforcement, acreage/cow, days/year on pasture, and permissible exemption.
Pasture
100Excellent pasture compliance
One time/day receives the most points. Two times per day is standard.
Times Milked
90Two times a day (standard protocol on legitimate organic dairies)
Lower cull rate scores better, with under 10% receiving the most points.
Cull/death Rate
100Very low cull rate
Farms with closed herds receive the most points. Farms that sell organic calves and buy conventional replacements receive the fewest.
Replacements
100Closed herd
Standard practice is removing calves shortly after birth, with extra points given for unique ways of managing calves
Calves
80Some calves raised on nanny cows
Farms that prohibit antibiotics receive the most points. Farms that allow young stock to receive antibiotics (under one year), receive the fewest.
Antibiotic Use
100No antibiotic use
No hormones is the standard, however some farms do use oxytocin for therapeutic purposes.
Hormone Usage
100No hormones used
Farmstead dairies (owner lives on-site) receive the most points. Fewer points are given as oversight declines.
Farm Support
95Lives on premises, visits neighbors regularly
All ingredients sourced from inside the organization or on the farm receives the highest points. Ingredients from confinement factory farms and/or imported ingredients receive the fewest.
Procurement of Ingredients
100No outside ingredients used
Various levels of extra credit given for 1) providing full organic systems plan, 2) providing details on all farms (multi-farm brands, details on largest five required), and 3) sourcing feed on-farm or domestically.
Extra Credit
0None