Amy Darroch began to fulfill her lifelong dream in July 2010 on her newly purchased farm just south of Peterborough. From the time her parents began dairy farming twenty five years ago, when Amy was just a toddler, she had a passion for animals and she knew she had been bitten by the farming bug.
When Amy and her two sisters were young, her Mom wanted to be able to work at home, so that she could spend time with her children. Amy’s father worked for the local farm supply co-operative and they owned a farm, so purchasing some dairy cows seemed like a reasonable business plan. It was hard work and a lot of lessons were learned by trial and error, but the benefits of owning their own business and seeing the herd grow and prosper, were incentive enough for Amy’s parents.
In 2007, the Darroch’s farm became the second farm in central Ontario to be certified organic. They had always pastured their cows and had used very little medications or chemicals, so the transition to organic was really only a matter of increasing the record keeping on the farm and sourcing some organic grain suppliers.
After Amy graduated from Kemptville College in 2008, she began to search for her own farm while she worked for the College and Holstein Canada . The pieces all began to come together when she found the Bailieboro farm. The land could be certified organic, as it had not been sprayed for many years, and it was within a reasonable distance of her parent’s farm. The barn had been used for dairy previously, and it was only a matter of installing milking and feeding equipment to bring it up to standards. Amy’s parents could continue to house and raise the young cattle at their farm and help to supply Amy with feed.
Amy admits that it is tough for young people today to start farming. There is a large financial commitment and the hours can be long. She is very thankful that her parents have been, and continue to be, there to help her when she needs them. Without their help, she speculates that she would have waited many years to reach her goal of farming on her own.
Amy’s pride in her Holstein herd is evident for anyone who visits the farm. She is a strong believer in choosing the best bulls to constantly improve the caliber of her animals. She hopes one day to reach Master Breeder status or maybe even have a class winner at the prestigious Royal Winter Fair. The golden rule on the Darroch farm is to always put the animals care and comfort first. She believes that comfortable, contented cows will repay their owners over and over with many litres of milk.
Amy is a strong believer in farming in an environmentally sustainable way, while putting animals first. For Amy farming organically is about strengthening the circle of life - healthy soil produces healthy plants which feed healthy animals who in turn return nutrients to the soil in their manure.
As a young organic dairy farmer, Amy has a lot to be proud of. She loves her work and constantly strives to set the bar higher for herself and continue to build on the legacy that her family started.
Amy was profiled in the May 2011 issue of Chatelaine Magazine. To view a pdf of the article, click here.
She was also interviewed for the April 2011 issue of theMilk Producer. To read the article, 'In her own right', click here.