Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm
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Name:              Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm

Address:           Vaughn and Laura Chase

                          Chase Organic Dairy Farm

                          84 Creasey Ridge Road

                          Mapleton, Maine  04757

Phone:              207-764-3993



Facebook:           Chases’s Facebook Page

Products and Services:

-organic milk sold to Moo Milk

-Genex-sired herd

-excess hay available for sale occasionally

-calves available on occasion

What Makes Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm Unique?

If you had the opportunity to watch “Betting the Farm,” a wonderful documentary that chronicled the lives of some dairy farmers who were attempting to establish an organic milk company in Maine, you may recall Vaughn and Laura Chase.  They figured predominantly in the film.  Vaughn and Laura operate Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm in Mapleton in Aroostook County.  Their passion for seeing MOOMilk, the maverick organic milk company, succeed was clearly obvious in the movie.  Also very apparent was the fact that they were exceptionally hard-working and principled people with a great deal of love for each other, their family, their land, and their animals.

The importance that family members play in successfully running a six-hundred-acre farm has been evident for generations at Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm.  Laura Chase has posted several old photos of farm members who have contributed to seeing the farm prosper over the years on the farm’s website.  She has kindly agreed to share them on a webpage in this profile.

Vaughn’s parents, Lewis and Pearline Chase, established a dairy farm at the present location of the farm in 1935, when Lewis was only twenty years of age.  Vaughn’s brother, Donald, and his wife, Harriet, took over the farm in 1975.  Vaughn, the younger son, and Laura,  became owners in 1999.  Growing up,  Laura lived on a small farm across the road from the Chase’s farm and she chuckles as she reminisced about how she had always had a crush on Vaughn!  They married and she and Vaughn have four children who all assist with some aspect of the farm.

Their eldest son, Lewis, works full-time on the farm with his father.  The Chase’s older daughter, April, works full-time off the farm, but still does chores every Sunday morning with her father. Their younger daughter, Brooke, assists each Sunday afternoon so that Lewis is able to take Sundays off and enjoy time with his wife, Heather, and their two children, Abby and Aaron.  Brooke also works at the farm after school a few days a week and works many hours during the busy haying season.   Their ten-year-old son, Cole, helps around the farm, as well, with one parent or the other.

If you have never been to Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm, it is advisable to at least check out some of their magnificent photos on their website or Facebook page. The views from the top of Creasey Ridge are phenomenal.  There is an opportunity to look in every direction from this elevation which exceeds seven hundred feet.  Various mountains and hills are able to be seen as well as stunning vistas that include patchwork fields and areas of forested land and pastures dotted with red and white cows.  At the farm itself there is an assortment of farm animals including an Irish setter named Red, a border collie named Skipper, several cats, chickens, Nigerian dwarf goats, and rabbits.

While milking the cows means several hours each morning beginning at 4 a.m. and once again being repeated in the late afternoon, the real busy time at the farm presents itself when the fields need to be hayed. Each summer the Chases employ additional workers to help bring in the hay. Approximately 330 acres located at the farm consist of pasture and/or hay fields.  The Chases also own about eighty acres off the farm about one-half mile away.  A total of approximately eight thousand square bales of hay and around one thousand round bales are harvested each season. The Chases have a developed system of several enclosed paddocks with access to water in which the grazing of the cows can be continuously rotated.  The pastures are predominantly clover and timothy with some plantings of alfalfa.  On occasion, oats are planted and harvested as a grass for a silage crop before the oats mature.

The Chases predominantly raise red and white

Holsteins.  Approximately fifty-five cows are presently being milked.  The remainder of the one hundred head are either dry, heifers, or calves.  Laura explained that the family knows each of the cows very well.  They each are named often after something related to the name of their mother, their particular markings or a personality trait.  The offspring from the “Ice Cream” mother cow have had names of ice cream flavors and serving options such as “Sundae” and “Milkshake.” The love that the Chases possess for their animals is clearly evident in the endearing postings that Laura places on the farm’s Facebook page.  Laura is a very tech-savvy individual as she worked as a technology integrator for the local school system for several years and has helped with the design and maintenance of several websites including the MOOMilk website.

MOOMilk has figured predominantly in the lives of the members of the Chase family for the past three years.  So much has changed for them and other organic dairy farmers in Maine when they received a letter from Hood Milk that the company would no longer be purchasing their organic milk.  The movie “Betting the Farm” provides much insight into the many challenges that the Chases and other farm families faced.  Individuals who viewed the documentary may recall an emotional Laura explaining how difficult it was to work so hard and not be sure you could pay the bills.

Quite a bit of time has elapsed since “Betting the Farm” was released.  Brighter days are on the horizon for MOOMilk because of growing sales and a recent three-million dollar investment in the company.  Laura explained that it has provided much-needed stability to the company because the investor has a lot of knowledge of the organic industry and the expertise to help grow the company and the MOOMilk brand.  As MOOMilk grows, additional small family farms are added.  MOOMilk measures its success not in corporate profits, but by the number of small family farms it helps support by building a strong, local market for the fresh organic milk that they produce.

Dairy farmers will always face some challenges,

whether it is due to the fluctuation of milk prices, the uncertainty of weather and crop production, the need for expensive new equipment or the absence of sufficient help with farm labor.  Laura explained that she and Vaughn have always attempted to be careful with the amount of their debt load.  They have chosen to delay the purchase of a costly pipeline system for their milking.  They presently use a dumping station to collect their milk.  It is portable stainless steel hopper/filter in which they pour the milk that is taken from each cow.  A vacuum pump and a portable 5/8 plastic milkline carries milk from hopper bottom directly to the bulk tank.

When asked about the way that Chase’s Dairy Farm operates in relation to some of the other dairy farms in the state, Laura explained that some people might consider their operation to be run somewhat differently and that they are  “a little old-fashioned.”  If you have an opportunity to talk with Laura Chase, the solid traditional values so admired in farmers over the years is clearly communicated.  She explains how important it is for people to value small local farms.  She will also passionately discuss how the recent development of giant corporate farms can threaten the sustainability of small family farms and a safe, locally-produced and locally-controlled food system.

Laura is saddened by the steady demise of so many dairy operations in Aroostook County during her lifetime.  She recalls a time in her childhood when dairy farms were flourishing.  There were, at one time, thirty-five dairy farms in Aroostook County that supplied milk to the local MPG Dairy.  The sight of cows grazing in a pasture was much more common.  She feels that family farms are beneficial to the local economy in many ways.  They produce safe, nutritious food and are careful stewards of the land that contributes to the great character of Maine with its open spaces, forests, and scenic beauty.  Money spent on local food stays in the local economy and is recycled many times over.  Working farms pay local, state, and federal taxes and support many local businesses such as farm supply stores, equipment dealers, machine repair shops, veterinarians, crop services, and fuel suppliers.  By hiring local individuals, farms provide much-needed employment.

The Chase’s commitment to support local businesses is clear.  Just recently they hauled a load of organic hay to another organic dairy farmer who was running short. They purchase organic wood ash from Casella Organics in Fort Fairfield to help add magnesium, potassium, and other nutrients to their soil. Two area snowmobile clubs are welcomed on their land and groom the trails.

The contributions of the Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm have not gone unnoticed.  They were recognized by the Central Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District as the recipient of the Outstanding Conservation Farm award in 2008.   They have been working with the USDA National Resources Conservation Service to make improvements on the farm. They are members of MOOMilk which has earned an outstanding  Five-Cow rating on the Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Dairy Scorecard. And, of course, there was quite a bit of recognition that was garnered from the fact that they were featured in “Betting the Farm,” which has received glowing reviews on a national and international level.

Laura’s self-proclamation of possibly being a little “old-fashioned” actually seems quite refreshing in a modern world so often bombarded with the influences of materialism and highly-technological advances and harried schedules that leave little time for family and reflection.  The Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm is succeeding because several family members are pooling their efforts in its operation.  Raising animals in a respectful and humane way is still a priority.  By establishing themselves as an organic dairy, the Chases have committed to eliminating all antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, GMOs, synthetic fertilizers, and toxic or persistent pesticides or herbicides.  This “old-fashioned” way of operating seems downright reassuring for future farming and health concerns.  In actuality, the operation of the Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm is truly quite progressive in a time when farming trends have often navigated heavily towards large-scale corporate-controlled agriculture.

Photo courtesy of Chase’s Organic Dairy Farm’s website.

Photo courtesy of Laura Chase.

Photo courtesy of Laura Chase.