Thistle Hill Farm, LLC North Pomfret, VT
Thistle Hill Farm is a certified organic dairy farm located in North Pomfret, Vermont, owned and operated by John and Janine Putnam and their four children, aged ten to eighteen. The Putnams have been farming organically for over fifteen years, beginning with vegetables and beef, and culminating with organic cheese making. Other than incidental part time help, the family makes Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise themselves from the ground up. Every aspect of creating the cheese, from caring for the hay fields and pastures to bringing in the hay and caring for and milking the Jersey dairy cows is done on the farm by the Putnam family. The closed herd of certified organic Jersey cows are fed only certified organic hay produced by the farm and certified organic grain. In the summer the cows are rotated through a series of small pastures to ensure that they are on new fresh grass every twelve hours. The barn contains comfort tie stalls where the cows are milked twice per day. During the summer, except during severe weather, the cows are never in the barn except for milking and their morning nap. Even during the winter, the cows are out every day stretching their legs, soaking up the sun and socializing. Cows were meant to graze, and the Putnams' cows' access to the outdoors and natural feeding environment makes them happy and healthy. The cows' grass based diet is important not just to their health but also to ours. The warm butterscotch color of Tarentaise is testament to the high betacarotene, vitamin E, conjugated linoleic acid ("CLA") and omega 3 fatty acids found in the milk of these grass fed cows. All of these elements have found to be a healthy component of our diet and, especially the omega 3's, are linked with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, obesity and others diseases. Grazing animals get more omega 3's because they get them directly from the grass. These omega 3's are ultimately passed to humans at the top of the food chain. (SEE Jo Robinson, NODPA News, November, 2002, Volume 2, Issue 3.) The pastures and hay fields which feed their cows are, themselves, fed with the nutrients of the cows' manure, supplemented with lime and other mineral amendments. They never use herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Weeds are controlled by the timing of their cuttings and by encouraging competition from desirable grasses and forages. As in any sustainable organic system, the Putnams strive to create a complete circle of nutrients, from field to cow to field. Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise is an aged alpine raw milk cheese handmade on the Putnam family farm in North Pomfret, Vermont, from the certified organic milk of their grass-fed Jersey cows. The cheese is made in the tradition of the Tarentaise Valley in the Savoie region of the French Alps. Tarentaise cheese is made with a copper vat using traditional methods reserved for the finest cheeses in the world. This unique cheese is smooth textured, subtly nut-flavored and naturally rinded. It is ideal both for the table and for melting.