Vernon, Vermont is the most southeastern town in the Green Mountain State. It’s just 20 square miles and historically has a population less than 3,000 people. It is however home to the Miller Dairy Farm. A reminder that Vermont’s rich dairy farming history still stretches from North to South.
The Miller Farm has been with the Miller family since being purchased by Arthur Lyman Miler in 1916, the great-grandfather of the current generation of Millers running the dairy business. The current Miller Farm location was the second farm Arthur built, developed, and managed – passing on his first farm to his younger brother Irving.
Now in the hands of Art and Peter Miller and Keith Franklin – Miller Farm LLC remains a 104 year old celebrated landmark in the Vernon community. And on March 21st, viewers from across New England and beyond got a behind-the-scenes tour of this organic dairy operation as they hosted the 2021 Vermont Breakfast on the Farm Virtual Farm Tour.
While technology, farming practices, and consumers needs have changed over those 100 years, the Miller Farm’s commitment to producing fresh, nutritious milk has not.
In 2009, the farm became certified organic. In 2016 they became full members of Stonyfield Organic, which sources their milk from the CROPP Cooperative.
Today, the Miller farm is owned and operated by three families: Peter and his wife Angela, his brother Arthur and Arthur’s wife Judy, as well as Keith and wife Tina Franklin.
These farming families together milk 175 cows and care for a dairy herd of about 200 Holsteins – one of the oldest registered Holstein herds in North America. These ladies are joined on the farm by some friendly horses, and a flock of busy chickens.
Miller Farm also cares for 700 acres of land just west of the Connecticut River – soils that are praised by local farmers for their rich, crop-growing potential. Being certified organic, Miller Farm is required to have their cows spend at least 120 days on pasture during warm months of the year. Cows on pasture can help to fertilize their own fields and churn-up and aerate their pasture lands. It also enables Miller Farm to purchase and grow less crops for feed during Spring, Summer, and Fall months.
Miller Farm sells a majority of the 1,500 gallons they produce a day to Stonyfield Organic, but are now operating their own on-farm processing facility selling pasteurized, cream-line milk (Shake it Baby! – buy a bottle, you’ll see what we mean) to their neighbors, community, and surrounding Co-ops and supermarkets. The families of Miller Farm say this project is an investment in the farm’s future – giving them an added source of revenue.
From the hands of Jonathan Hunt, Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor from 1794-1796 – to the calloused yet caring palms of Art, Pete, Keith, their families and the farm employees – this plot of agricultural land in Southeastern Vermont remains an important part of the Green Mountain State. Whether it’s building carbon-capturing soils, or producing nutritious dairy for their community and beyond, these farmers and their herd of Holsteins are primed for 2021 and beyond.