VERMONT-- Visitors who come to this state usually have a bucket list that consists of visiting Stowe, The Von Trapp Lodge, Burlington, Jay Peak and Burke, Ben and Jerry's and of course Cabot Creamery. Even though Cabot is a well-known business many people may still not know certain things about Cabot and how their relationship with the farms really works.
"Cabot started in 1919. A group of farmers came together; they created a cooperative so they could find a home for their milk. Where they otherwise couldn't, and a hundred years later it's grown and grown and now we have branded cheese products other dairy products, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, and it's evolved from 94 farmers to 1200 family farms all over the Northeast," stated Nate Formalarie the Brand Communications Manager for Cabot Creamery. Every day the farms milk their cows and send their milk to Cabot.
Although many people think that Cabot is a Vermont business, they actually have locations outside of the state too. Cristin O'Donnell, the Production Manager at the Cut and Wrap Facility in Cabot added, "so we have plants in multiple locations, Cabot Vermont, Middlebury Vermont, Chateaugay New York, West Springfield Massachusetts, and actually there is two locations in Cabot. One is a manufacturing location and ones a cutting and wrapping facility that cuts all the cheese from all the plant locations that we have."
Dating back to 1994 Cabot has received numerous awards for their cheese, butter, and yogurt making them one of the best businesses to buy dairy products from. "To win a best in class world championship for our sharp cheddar, is just a hugely awesome thing for us and we're so proud because that means the farmers milk is quality. The employees that work for those farmers are making a quality product and it's getting to market through marketing team so that's a great thing to have all phases of your game going. So to win a best in class award for cheddar and the Greek yogurt and have judges from all over say this is the best, is something we're hugely proud of," said Formalarie. This year Cabot won for Best of Class in High Protein Cow's Milk Yogurt with their Plain Greek Yogurt, Best of Class Sharp Cheddar, and they also took third place in Cheddar aged one to two years with their Cabot Farmhouse Reserve. To see all of the awards Cabot has won, visit this link.
Besides being recognized for their award winning products, Cabot Creamery is recognized in another way by giving back to the community. "So we have a food truck, that we call the Gratitude Grill. It drives up to Habitat for Humanity builds or other volunteer efforts and makes free grilled cheeses for people that are volunteering there. So you know that's a nice connection people have with Cabot but it's also to thank people for improving their community. So a lot of our focus is there." Said Formalarie, "we also have a program called Reward Volunteers, which is an online program, where people can log their hours and then they become eligible for prizes and things of that nature."
Those who are interested in visiting Cabot have four different locations they can go to the Cabot Annex Store in Waterbury VT, Cabot Quechee Store in Quechee VT, and Cabot Farmers' Annex in Portland ME. Those who are interested in seeing more of the behind the scenes can go to the Cabot Visitor Center in Cabot where they can tour the factory. To see the list of places and read more about them go to the Cabot Visit Us page.
Cabot prides themselves on working closely with the farmers who provide the milk they need for their products. "I think one of the great things about Cabot is that it's a very real story. We don't have big marketing commercials or billboards or anything like that. It's a very kind of homegrown style of marketing, where we're able to tell our story and able to tell people when they're buying our cheese they're supporting our family farms and keeping them farming. It's a good message and one that we really try to focus on rather than trying to be super flashy or anything along those lines," said Formalarie.
"I've learned, getting to know farmers better as being an employee. You know we're owned by farmers, we're employees of the farmers. They are their own small businesses," said O'Donnell, but is the relationship between the farmers and Cabot really as close as they say it is? Yes, yes it is.
One of the first farms to join the Cabot Cooperative is Molly Brook Farm. Owners Myles Goodrich and Rhonda Miller Goodrich operate the farm. "We have a great relationship with Cabot or with the cooperative too. I think that's a good way to think about it, because that's truly what it is," said Rhonda. "There is a group of about 1200 farmers, maybe a little more than that actually, all of us work together on our dairies to send our milk to Cabot and they put together the products and the marketing, and they just do a tremendous job for us." Myles added, "they work very closely with us and we kind of do promotional things for them. They bring visitors here. So it's a very close relationship and we enjoy that a lot because it makes us feel part of the whole thing."
Molly Brook Farm has been producing milk for Cabot for over 100 years. Myles and Rhonda are the seventh generation on the farm. "We were in partnership for many years with Myles, before that it was just Walt and myself, my husband is Walter. And before that it was Walt's folks, Wendell and Inez. And Wendell was involved in the Cabot Creamery, as president of the Board of Trustees for many years," commented Sally Goodrich. She and her husband Walter still live on the farm but have since retired. However that doesn't stop her from going to visit with the cows. "So we are probably the longest, I know we're the longest ones who have shipped to Cabot Creamery. It's been well over 70 years. There was one other farm that was about the same time, but now they're out of business, so we're the only ones who have been shipping to Cabot that long."
Each day Myles and Rhonda, with the help of some of their grandkids, milk the cows and send the milk to Cabot. To the Goodrich family, these cows are part of the family. "They are part of our family. Each one of them has their very own name. And they work hard for us, they work very for us. We produce. We're not a big herd, we have about 125 milking cows, and we're milking about 95 right now. But they work hard for us, we work hard for them. Taking care of them, and they're all kind of like pets really," said Rhonda.
Even back on the plant, the Cabot employees understand just how much the cows do for them, they do not just think of the cows as another animal. "We are always having milk, the cows are always producing milk twenty- four seven. So our main ingredient for our product, whether it's our naturally aged cheddar, our Greek yogurt, or our cottage cheese, we always have an ingredient already coming to us. So we're manufacturing threw the plants twenty- four seven as well," said O'Donnell. "There is no holiday, there's no day offs, there's no weekend, our main ingredient is constantly coming in. And it's up to us as employees to make the most of that ingredient to return the profit back to the farmers."
Rhonda concluded her interview with one last statement about Molly Brook Farm's relationship with Cabot, "They're really good to us. They do a lot and farmers really do have a lot of say and input in what goes on in Cabot. And it's a nice relationship. Instead of just sending your milk and just selling your milk, we're proud of the Cabot Cheddar Cheese and proud of the products they make with our milk."
Besides being well known for their milk, Molly Brook Farm is world wide famous as well for their bulls. Their most famous cow, Flower, has decadence on every continent except Antarctica. You can visit Molly Brook Farm Website to read about their history, they do welcome visitors to come and see their farm.