When young Winfred Fellows dreamed of starting his own dairy farm in the 1940s, small dairy operations in the area were already struggling. Winfred lost his life in World War II, and his brother Oliver picked up the dream and established a farm next to their parents’ land in 1954. For 30 years the farm sold liquid milk to bulk distributors, but when Oliver’s son Mark and his wife Jeannette bought the property in 1984, they started to rethink some of the patterns that made it so hard for small dairy farmers to stay profitable no matter how hard they worked.
Today, Chase Hill Farm has embraced strategies that are both very old and cutting-edge: adding value to liquid milk by transforming it into cheese, reducing the farm’s reliance on fossil fuels, and marketing directly to people and stores in the immediate region. Perhaps most important, they draw on the strengths of this “upland” soil rather than trying to overwork it by growing grains or vegetables on a commercial scale. Chase Hill’s fields grow nutritious grass that feeds the cows for free three seasons of the year; milking them only during those seasons and feeding hay during the winter months when they’re “dry” enables the farm to survive without needing to grow or import grain for winter feed. “The basis of everything we do is minimizing how much we need,” Mark says—an approach that earlier generations of farmers in this hill town might recognize and applaud.
Click here to read more about the history of Chase Hill Farm and the Fellows family. Watch our short video about Chase Hill Farm below.