We may say that the story of Consider Bardwell Farm, in Southern Vermont, is a story of revival.
In 2000, Angela, a lifelong New Yorker and literary agent to some of the city’s finest chefs, purchased the property, then in a state of serious disrepair, with her husband Russell Glover, an architect. In 15 years, they built it, largely by hand, from a tiny operation into one of the nation’s finest dairy farms and creameries.
It all started a few months after they purchased the farm, when they learned that the farm had been the first cheese cooperative in the state of Vermont, founded in the 1860s by a man named Consider Bardwell. For Angela the historic significance of the place was fascinating. The dairy cooperative had prospered in the mid-1800s, but after that, like many New England dairy operations, it had collapsed. For years before Angela purchased it, the barns had been empty and the fields ungrazed.
So Angela decided to bring back its past. She started with six goats in 2001. Real dairy operations on a commercial level didn’t start until 2004 or 2005, and they’ve been ramping up ever since.
It has not been easy though. It took 8 years before it was even profitable.
“When you do things the way we do them here, with a commitment to doing everything right at every step of the process, it takes a while to build up”, mentions Peter Henry, Consider Bardwell’s New York sales manager and marketing manager.
The 300-acre farm now provides wages that support seven families and produces 100,000 pounds of cheese a year. It owns 140 milking goats and 60 Jersey cows across three partner farms.
There are a couple of things particularly interesting about Consider Bardwell Farm.
The first thing is its dedication to sustainable farming practices, critical thinking and innovation. It inspires to revive the rural economy. “We’re on the cutting edge of cheese making technology and processes, at the same time as being totally committed to doing things ethically and sustainably, and in the way we feel is right. I think right now at Consider Bardwell, we’re raising up the next generation of cheesemakers in the Northeast” says Peter Henry.
The second thing is the youth and dedication of its staff. All the cheesemakers are in their twenties. They’re really passionate about what they do. The farmers, Mark and Sam Spigos, are a wonderful couple of young farmers from Ohio. Head cheesemaker Leslie Goff, 26, began working at Consider Bardwell at the age of fifteen. She now manages the making and aging of the whole cheese production.
They all are the symbol of that revival of rural economies and offering the chance for young people to stay in rural Vermont. That is part of the success of Consider Bardwell Farm, without any doubt. And we wish them continued success for the years to come.
Consider Bardwell Farm by the Numbers
- 15: number of years in business
- 3: the number of farms providing cows’ milk
- 140: the number of goats providing milk
- Over 100,000 lbs : the yearly production of cheese
- 20: the number of employees working at Consider Bardwell Farm
- 22: the number of awards won