cows in field

Jack and Ann Lazor, Butterworks Farm, to receive Farmer Recognition Award at the NODPA Field Days

Lazor family: Three generations

By Lisa McCrory, NODPA News Editor (and grateful mentee of Butterworks Farm)

Almost every year at the NODPA Field Days we like to recognize an individual or farm team who has had an impact on organic dairy farming; someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to share what they know, help others find their passion, and inspire people along the way. This year we would like to honor ack and Ann Lazor of Butterworks farm (Westfield, VT).

Jack and Ann started their farm in 1976 as back-to-the-land homesteaders. They have grown quite an operation and have taught, inspired and contributed to the makings of what is today a robust local foods landscape. With skills, passion and lots of practical experience under their belts they have helped many farmers - young and old; experienced and green behind the ears – get pointed in the right direction. “Jack and Ann are critical mentors”, says Enid Wonnacott, Executive Director for NOFA Vermont. “With soil management and animal health being the two greatest challenges in organic production, Jack mentors farmers on soil quality, grain production and implements, and Ann spreads her animal health wisdom, specifically the use of herbs and homeopathy to address animal health prevention and treatment.” Brent Beidler, organic dairy farmer and fellow organic grain grower shared a pearl of wisdom that he learned from Jack some time ago: “I recall a time when [Jack and I] were asked to testify at the state legislature about proposed GMO legislation and I nervously asked Jack how I should approach my testimony. ‘Give them your heart, Brent’, Jack said. He has the same attitude towards farming and encourages the same of the rest of us”.

Jack and Ann Lazor_jackbookBeyond the pioneering and innovative qualities Ann and Jack exemplify, they share their knowledge freely and willingly”, says Rachel Gilker of the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture and ‘On Pature’ magazine. “Their passion and knowledge are transmitted with humor and good cheer to anyone who would like to farm, or farm better.” A nurturer, Ann has been a leader in Farm to School Education. She has worked extensively with teachers and administrators in area schools integrating agriculture into the curriculum and local food into the cafeteria. “Ann understands that growing a healthy, viable, local food system requires that youth as well as adults have the opportunity to experience agriculture,” says Enid Wonnacott. “Like the milkweed that grows along her fence rows, Ann seeds education that is dispersed widely. An innovator, Jack is always challenging himself to grow new types of grains. “he is passionate about seed saving, and breeding on-farm, says Heather Darby, UVM Extension Agronomist. “He has developed his own corn variety, ‘Early Riser’ that many farmers in the Northeast grow.”

Most recently, Jack published a book on organic grain growing. His book, ‘The Organic Grain Grower: Small-Scale, Holistic Grain Production for the Home and Market Producer’, published by Chelsea Green, came out in early August, 2013. From the history of grain growing to soil fertility, weed control, harvest and storage of grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and finally to preparing livestock rations, this piece of work is, as one producer so eloquently stated, “Jack in a Book”.

Thanks to Brent Beidler, Enid Wonnacott, Heather Darby, and Rachel Gilker for their contributions to this article.