SpringWood Farm spreads across 220 acres of Lancaster County farmland in Kinzers, PA, just 17.7 miles from our Distribution Center in Downingtown. The farm is run by Roman and Lucy Stoltzfoos and their son and daughter-in-law, Dwight and Brenda Stoltzfoos. Roman’s grandfather originally bought the farm in 1941. The land was part of William Penn’s original estate, but at the time the farm was purchased, it was in neglect. In 1982 Roman Stoltzfoos took over the family farm and began applying sustainable farming methods.
Our team got the chance to tour SpringWood Farm in the Fall of 2018. It was apparent right away that the Stoltzfoos’s are a friendly and genuine family, who love to share their gifts with others. Roman shared that his father taught him “a love for the soil”. He explained to us that most food is terribly demineralized today due to poor soil health, which is why it has become a large focus for him and his goals for regenerative agriculture. “We believe it is a privilege to be here,” he says.
Roman says of conventional agriculture: “We were tired of being told ‘This chemical will work this year, but you’ll need to use this one next year…’” It was clear to him that these quick fixes were damaging to the land and were not sustainable for future generations. Over the years, the Stoltzfoos family would return the land to a beautiful, symbiotic, working farm.
When you step into Kimberton Whole Foods, you’ll not only find SpringWood Farm free range eggs, but you’ll also find Organic Valley GrassMilk, which contains milk from SpringWood’s herd of 200 dairy cows. (Organic Valley is a Co-op of small family dairies, including SpringWood – read more about them below!)
During our tour, Roman moved the cows to a new field, and we got to see how they are rotated to a new section of pasture each day to allow for the best diet and health. We watched them graze happily, surrounded by birds and butterflies. During the winter, the cows enjoy hay from the farm to maintain their energy when grass isn’t plentiful. When the weather turns cold, the cows are offered a warm place in the barn on composted bedding. Roman explained “barns are for farmers, not cows” and let us know how the ventilation is almost never right. They work diligently to provide an appropriate and safe space for the cows to spend their time, safe from the elements when needed – but the cows don’t find themselves in the barn all that often.
“In pastures where there’s no natural shade, we provide Shade Haven structures so the cows can get out of the sun when it’s too hot,” says Dwight. Shade Haven structures are huge mobile umbrellas that can be moved around so the grass doesn’t get too trampled in one spot.
SpringWood Farm’s dairy operation is unique (even among other Organic Valley farms) in that they employ the use of “nanny cows” to maintain the health of their growing calves. 2-3 calves are paired with a nanny cow and are allowed to nurse, grow, and thrive on pasture for 6-8 months. The young calves eat only milk, or grass – nothing else, as it should be. This is in stark comparison to conventional dairy farms where calves may be immediately given formula, and even differs from other organic farms where they may only be allowed to nurse for a matter of weeks. These critical months build their gut health and immunity, and allow them to grow healthier and live longer lives. In fact, the cows at SpringWood generally live to 10-12 years, whereas traditional dairy cows many only live a difficult and unpleasant 2 years.
At the farm, pastured hens follow the grazing dairy herd in free-range style with moveable solar powered coops. The hens eat grass, insects, worms and non-GMO Project Verified, soy-free feed. Take a look at the video below and watch these happy hens wake up and come out of their houses at the farm. They are guarded by dogs, which are used to scare away predators. “Our hens eat a varied diet and their pastured eggs usually have thicker shells and darker, more flavorful yolks,” says Dwight.
Pasture-raised birds spend most of their life outdoors, with a fair amount of space plus access to shelter. Learn about the difference between Cage-free, Free-Range, Organic, and Pasture-Raised eggs here.
The Stoltzfoos’s made the decision to join Organic Valley because they believe wholeheartedly in the value of 100% grass-fed dairy, and know that they deserve fair pay for a product of such high quality. Being part of a member cooperative, owned by farmers, helps them achieve this. Learn more about the farmers of Organic Valley here.
Working with Organic Valley also offers an additional level of confidence for the consumer: Organic Valley is invested in the health of the dairy cows and the land. That’s why they send a vet out to check on the health of the herd 1-2 times per year, and they also allot a certain amount of money to each farm for organic fertilizers to improve the soil. As they share on their website, “We rely on many generations of farming wisdom, combined with the latest science on regenerative agriculture, to make food that’s good for you and the planet.”
Says Dwight, “What always makes this place special to me is how my dad emphasizes farming in a way that works with nature instead of trying to conquer or kill it. That’s why we farm organic. We need to be wise stewards and do our best to work with nature the way God intended it to be.”