Here is some information on who won the awards for 2016:
The Next Generation Farmer Award is being presented for the first time in 2016 and recognizes excellence from beginning farmers.
|Max and Trystan Sandvoss|
They started First Light Farm and Creamery in East Bethany in 2010, producing artisanal cheeses from their milking goat herd mixed with milk from a neighboring Certified Organic Jersey cow farm (Grassland Dairy), as well as bottling and selling cow’s milk and whole cream-top yogurt.
The brothers did not grow up on a farm — their father was a lawyer and their mother a teacher in the Hudson Valley. Both received college degrees, but neither received an ag education — Trystan graduated from Northwestern and Max from Harvard.
After early careers on the West Coast, Trystan and Max spent a year apprenticing at a creamery near Seattle. Then they decided to return to New York state to raise Nubian and Alpine milking goats and produce dairy products not far from their stepfather’s farm, Lor-Rob Dairy, with a goal “to make the kind of food we like to eat.”
One of the draws to the Genesee County location was its position midway between Buffalo and Rochester. They sell their cheeses, yogurt and milk at farmers markets and stores in both cities, and have recently offered a ‘Dairy Share’ using a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model of distribution with weekly deliveries to retail stores and drop points.
Max and Trystan go to farmers markets weekly, give cheese-making demonstrations and meet with garden clubs and Rotary groups to talk about farming. Leadership Genesee and other groups have visited their farm.
In all, more than 2,000 people have toured the farm and participated in cheese-making workshops, including guests from Canada and Hong Kong.
Everything that happens at First Light is done locally. Fields are seeded with grass that is grown on the farm or within 10 miles of the farm, and is fertilized with manure produced on the farm. The farm utilizes 100 percent organic practices with no hormones or chemical fertilizers.
Goats are pastured on the farm and fed dry grass from the local area. Whey, produced as a byproduct of the cheese-making, is fed to pigs on a nearby hog operation.
Everything is done with the environment, conservation and animal comfort in mind.
Next on the agenda for First Light Farm and Creamery is expected statewide distribution of their dairy products through a high-end grocery chain with potential expansion to other like-minded retailers.
After five years of hard work and passion, the brothers have figured out how to continue to grow and still enjoy a day off. But it is the stories of middle of the night births during kidding season, milk testing rituals and building a community that make clear the brothers’ love for the farm life that they have chosen.
Todd DuMond, the next generation on his family’s farm in Cayuga County, is recognized as a 2016 Next Generation Farmer Award winner.
Todd has fostered significant growth and expansion of the farm business since returning to what was a 600 acre cash crop farm in 2003, a couple years after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Today, DuMond Ag in Union Springs, farms nearly 5,000 acres.
Eric and Marge DuMond, Todd’s parents, started a small beef cow operation in Saranac Lake in 1980, and moved to the Finger Lakes five years later where they began the cash crop farm. Under Todd’s management, the farm has been on an aggressive growth curve, increasing steadily in size and diversifying business pursuits.
DuMond Grain, a soybean roasting business, was an offshoot that began in 2003 when Todd returned to the farm. In 2010, Todd began DuMond Trucking to provide an improved transportation option for the local farm community.
Similarly, in 2015 Todd expanded DuMond Grain to include corn grinding to produce cornmeal as a new commodity for the business. Most recently, DuMond Ag created a cover crop seed dealership and invested in a row crop farming operation.
One of the most difficult challenges DuMond Ag faces is climate change. As a result, Todd uses a variety of conservation methods that emphasize the relationship between increased weather volatility and the use of precision agriculture.
The use of cover crops and spatial soil analysis helps to protect and enrich the soil by increasing soil water absorption during heavy rains, reducing surface water runoff and possible erosion. Todd also uses reduced tillage and narrow-row planting, as well as subsurface drainage systems, catch basins, stand pipes and conservation strips to protect soil and water resources.
His precision agriculture efforts include precise nutrient application placement. And, when preparing the fields each year, DuMond Ag uses tramlines – the routes that tractors and trucks use to drive in and out of the field are the same year after year, limiting field soil compaction to those tracks.
Todd has served on the New York State Corn and Soybean Growers Association Board for about 10 years. He is also nearing the end of his nine-year term as New York’s representative to the American Soybean Association.
He has built relationships with local agricultural colleges, coordinating tours and talks, and for three years has hosted the Summer Crop Tour, an education day for production agriculture.