Positively organic

By most U.S. agricultural standards, Joseph and Kathleen Hescock look like typical dairy farmers. But moving beyond farming stereotypes, the resemblance to the "average" ends-the Hescocks farm, located in Shoreham, is downright minimalist.

The couple's 800-acre Addison County farm operation adheres to a scientific plan for healthy soil rotation with a small footprint on the local environment. The Hescocks' success can be attributed to having made a transition from traditional to organic farming methods in the late 1990s.

This year, the Vermont couple's dedication to producing healthy dairy products, while looking beyond the day-to-day challenges of staying in business in tough economy, was honored with "runner-up" honor status for the 2010 Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) Award. This annual organic farming award recognizes farmers who create positive change in their communities by practicing and serving as a model for organic agriculture n general.

Horizon Organic has been a sponsor of the popular Farm Aid concert and founded the HOPE Award in 2005.

Farm Aid is the longest running concert-for-a-cause in America, held each year to promote the importance of family farming, as well as raise awareness about the economic, environmental and health challenges that our nation faces, which family farmers can help us address.

At this summer's concert, Horizon Organic announced the recipients of the HOPE Award. And while the Hescocks were mentioned-and were thrilled with the recognition, according to Horizon Organic officials-the award went to another farming couple, also from the northeastern U.S.

Nudging out the Hescocks were Harvey and Connie Frasier of Mohawk, N.Y.; they received the top award for their sustainable farming methods.

"The HOPE Award means a lot to our family, as we take great pride in our work and are grateful to be in a business that's supportive to both the people and the planet," said farmer Connie Frasier. "We hope this award will help us further spread the word about organic farming and continue to help those interested in learning more about switching to organic farming practices."

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