One of the best-known brands in grocery stores across New England and beyond has a new tool that aims to drive business to dairy farms that welcome visits.
The Vermont-based Cabot Cooperative Creamery, which makes the famous Cabot Cheddar Cheese and other dairy products, is pointing consumers to where they can visit member farms — the ones that are set up for public visits.
Many dairy farmers also operate roadside stands that sell products such as maple syrup or offer tours or corn mazes.
So the new, online Cabot Farm Trail highlights those spots, promoting agritourism.
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"It's about making sure our farmers are viable, that their farm businesses are positioned so that they can continue to make a living," explained Amber Sheridan of the Cabot Cooperative Creamery.
Sheridan said Cabot sees the farm trail as a tool to support diversification, which farmers are finding especially critical in a tough economic climate for dairy.
"To have this kind of coordination among our Cabot family is really awesome," said Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm in Rochester,.
Kennett operates an on-farm inn that is among the first locations Cabot is featuring on the online farm trail.
"For me, agritourism is just a wonderful way of farms being able to diversify their income stream and also a wonderful way to connect with our consumers and get them excited about our cows and our milk and our cheese," Kennett told NECN in an interview Thursday.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers developed a heightened interest in knowing where their food comes from, Cabot said.
"We live in the city so we kind of wanted a more country-like experience," said Olesya Baker of Brookline, Massachusetts, who is vacationing with her family at Liberty Hill Farm this week. "This has been great in terms of really seeing how hard it is to produce food and all the work that goes into it. So it definitely influenced a lot of our decision to buy local and support local farms."
Sheridan said Cabot's growing product line, which now includes boxed macaroni and cheese and a rich dessert-like triple cream yogurt, aims to further ensure revenues for the co-op's 750 member farms across the northeast.
Cabot expects to add more stops to the farm trail, Sheridan said.
Baker indicated she would check out the site — hoping to discover other places to explore during a return trip to the inn at Liberty Hill Farm.
"It's really become part of our family," the agritourist said of the inn and the Rochester region.