This is a story about a small dairy in Chehalis, WA.
Rosecrest Farm is home to about 135 Shorthorn milking cows and the loving farmers who care for them; Gary, Sharon, and one of their sons, Keith. With the help of a supportive and collaborative working relationship with Organic Valley, a co-op of farmer-owners across the country, Rosecrest has become a true success story – one that some never thought possible.
“You’ll never be a farmer.”
This is what Gary McCool’s high school vocational agriculture teacher told him. Not for lack of skill or ability; Gary’s family had no land or herd for him to inherit, which is the most common way someone becomes a dairyman. Gary was convinced that being a dairyman was not in his future; he was more interested in seeing the world, anyway. Maybe it was fate, maybe a change of heart, but with serving in Vietnam and college under his belt, Gary found his way back to the farm, as it were, and started a small dairy in Oregon.
Fast forward to today – Gary, Sharon, and Keith work in synergy with their land in Chehalis, WA. Being an organic dairy doesn’t just mean no hormones for the cows – there are certain ways you have to treat the land, too. This is where Organic Valley comes into the picture in a big way. Organic Valley is a cooperative company, meaning that each farmer who works with them is part-owner of the company. This type of arrangement isn’t uncommon in the dairy or agriculture industry, but the level of support and community engagement that Organic Valley provides to its members is.
“I am darn glad to ship to them. I feel connected to the co-op,” Gary shared with me. As members, each farm gets a vote on how the company operates, and also has access to many helpful resources to ensure that the farmer-owners can continue the practices that ensure the health of the land and the product. They also like to support the communities that support their farmers. From sponsoring events and little league teams to awarding scholarships, Organic Valley takes a holistic approach that embodies the saying, “We are all in this together.”
And that’s not all…
In addition to the work that Rosecrest Farm does with Organic Valley, Sharon McCool is also an artisan cheesemaker. Using raw milk straight from the parlor, Sharon’s swiss cheese can be found at Farmers Markets in Proctor, Tacoma, and Chehalis, WA, and Astoria, OR. Although I think the best way to get her cheese is right at the source – at their barn-side store, at the farm on Spooner Road.
For the Ride the Willapa, Tour de Farms and Organic Valley welcome you to experience Rosecrest Farm, June 24th, 2017. Folks from Organic Valley will be there, sampling some of the great products and answering questions about organic farming and their company, Sharon and Gary will be there to point out the sights on their farm and give you a taste of their cheese, and the new calves for the year would love for you to give them a little pet!
For more information about Tour de Farms, click here.
Interested in registering for Ride the Willapa? Head to our registration page here.