cows in field

UPDATE: The 20th Annual NODPA Field Days

Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agricultural and Environmental Education, Freeport, ME

As I write this update for the 20th annual NODPA Field Days, life is anything but normal as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that we are continuing to plan for the NODPA Field Days to be held on September 24 & 25, 2020 at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, Maine.

Unlike large conferences, fairs and events that take months and many manpower hours to plan and execute, that are being cancelled due to the uncertainty of these times, the NODPA Field Days is a relatively nimble event that we can continue to prepare for without the same liability of these large events. Field Days attracts a fairly consistent number of participants, so we are confidently able to plan to bring everyone together while maintaining safe and healthy environment. We are very fortunate that Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agricultural and Environmental Education will be partnering with NODPA to make this a great event.

The educational program is taking shape and will have something for everyone. Although we are still working to fill out the program, here are a few of the highlights. In an animal and agronomic/forage quality-focused workshop, Andre Brito, Veterinarian and Professor of Dairy Cattle Nutrition and Management, University of New Hampshire, and Sid Bosworth, Extension Professor: Agronomy Specialist at the University of Vermont, will present on their research on the role of legumes in dairy cow diets.

In these days of low milk prices and pessimism in the organic dairy industry, we will present three young organic dairy farm families, all from Maine, who ae taking a variety of creative paths to have viable farms. They will share their stories about their farms and families; describing the opportunities and challenges of organic dairy farming in 2020.

A member of the NODPA Field Days planning committee remarked, “There are many more little kids running around our farmer meetings these days, and that is very good news.” So, we thought it would be timely to invite the following farm families to come tell us their stories:

Conor and Alexis McDonald, own Bo Lait Farm, an organic dairy farm in Washington, ME, that ships their milk to Organic Valley. First-generation farmers, the MacDonald’s worked with Maine Farmland Trust in 2015 to purchase and protect their dairy farm, Bo Lait.

Caitlin Frame and Andy Smith, together with their young son Linus, run The Milkhouse, Monmouth, ME. The Milkhouse (and Grace Pond Farm, their partner farm) dairy cows make the milk that they use to make yogurt. In addition to yogurt, they bottle milk, raise steers and pigs for meat, and laying hens for eggs. They market their farm products online, at their store and to local outlets.

Katia and Brendan Holmes own and operate Misty Brook Farm, a 600-acre certified organic farm in Albion, Maine. They took over long-time NODPA member Henry Perkin’s farm in 2013 after farming on a patchwork quilt of rented land in Central Massachusetts for eight years before that. Thy produce organic, 100% grass-fed raw Jersey cow’s milk and cream, 100% grass-fed beef, milk-fed rose veal, grass-fed lamb, pasture-raised pork, soy-free eggs, and more.

Lee Rinehart, National Center for Appropriate Technologies (NCAT) Agriculture Specialist has been invited to speak on a range of topics, from Adaptive Grazing to Seaweed Farming opportunities. We are still working with Lee to determine the most up-to-date focus for his workshop. More information will be coming in the July NODPA News.

Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, hosts of our Field Days, will provide hay wagon tours of the expansive property, including a tour of their organic farm, while learning all about the numerous programs and projects, including their current research into kelp as a feed source. We will hear from their Dairy Grazing Apprentices, and learn how that program fits into their whole farm program.

The Thursday evening program will feature Maine Veterinarian Simon Alexander, Exeter Veterinary Services, Exeter, ME, who will share his knowledge and insights about the current and future course of COVID-19. But, since Dr. Alexander is also an excellent storyteller, he has agreed to share some of his favorite stories about dairy farming in Maine.

Thursday morning will feature a organic dairy farm tour, and in the July NODPA News issue, we will have all those details. We will also have more details about lodging, tent and RV camping at Wolfe’s Neck, and a final program. In addition, we will be sending out information about sponsorship and trade show opportunities in the next few weeks. Please contact Nora Owens, NODPA Field Days Coordinator, for additional information, and with any questions you may have. She can be reached at, or 413-772-0444.

In the meantime, please SAVE THE DATE and begin to make plans to join us on September 24th & 25th, 2020 at the beautiful Wolfe’s Neck Farm, on the ocean in Freeport, Maine, for a unique, educational and entertaining 20th Annual NODPA Field Days.