Engelbert Farms

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A FARMLY AFFAIR

Engelbert Farms of rural Nichols in New York State sure knows how to rack up milestones. Not only is Engelbert Farms a renown leader in the world of agriculture -- the farm first saw the light of day back in the mid-1880s when the Engelberts moved to nearby Conklin from Germany -- but Engelbert Farms is also the first officially certified organic dairy farm in the United States.

Not even the Civil War and nature's wrath has been able stop the Engelbert family from forging ahead. Today, Kevin Engelbert, his wife Lisa and sons Joe, Kris and John actively run the operation, but with a keen eye on preventing the use of chemicals, antibiotics, hormones or synthetic wormers.

In the movie Barnyard, the animals live a carefree existence because the farmer is a vegetarian. The Engelberts aren't vegetarians, but they also don't believe in keeping their animals confined in tight pens to generate higher profits. This makes the Engelbert farm a great place to be if you are a cow or a pig. They get to live the life they were meant to live and get fed grass, organic grain, and other wholesome foods to keep them happy and healthy.

While no one cares if what went into their hamburger lived a full life, people do care if the meat contains chemicals or antibiotics that will make them sick. As the demand for organic meat, cheese and produce continues to grow, more farms like Engelbert Farms needs to be there to meet the demand.

While no one cares if what went into their hamburger lived a full life.

And the Engelbert family works hard to keep their farm thriving. They have been able to do so in spite of hardships that have come their way over the years. During the Civil War, the farm their ancestors owned in Conklin was confiscated, forcing them to move and settle in Nichols. They started farming again in 1911 and Nichols has been their home ever since. They became an organic farm in 1981, and have been certified by Vermont Organic Farmers as an organic dairy farm. Organic farming is more labor intensive than other methods of farming because farmers don't use artificial fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals to remove pests, thus keeping their plants and herds healthy.

In 2011, the flood created by Hurricane Lee devastated the Engelbert's farm. The September flood brought two feet of water and left the land covered in mud as high as five feet in some places. Many of the buildings were ruined and took a lot of labor to clean and rebuild before they were useable again.

But the Engelberts persevered, and are still selling their organic meat, cheese and produce to local buyers. They have a farm store on the premises where they sell many of their goods, and they also visit several of the farmers' markets in the area. Health food stores, like Health Beat Natural Foods in nearby Johnson City, sell their organic products and so do some of the local delis and stores in the area.

The organic movement has been slow in building but popularity continues as more people yearn for a lifestyle that is free of modern artificial additives and chemicals. Engelbert Farms and others like them started their commitment to this new lifestyle even before it was popular because they knew it was the right thing to do.

Published by:

Wendyann Lewis
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    Diego Lacámara / apr 10, 2014

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