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Dutch Hollow Farms taught them a lesson
Students acknowledge eye-opening experience

Brian and Beth Chittenden and Professor Ruth Russell (right) stand with the AP student members of the New Visions Scientific Research and World Health program who spent the morning at Dutch Hollow Farms on Friday, Oct. 18.
Photos by Sherry Bunting

By SHERRY BUNTING
Special for Farmshine

SCHODACK LANDING, N.Y. -- “You have such a clean, well run and humane operation, defying the many negative myths about the dairy industry in this country,” wrote the New Visions Scientific Research and World Health class of advanced placement high school seniors in their collection of thank you notes to Beth and Brian Chittenden.

The Chittendens hosted the New Visions class on Friday, October 18, utilizing the Discovery Dairy Center they built on their Dutch Hollow Farms in Columbia County, New York, which was the subject of a feature story in Farmshine, October 25. The farm is home to 650 registered milking age Jersey cows plus replacements.

Not only were the students thankful for the opportunity to visit the dairy farm and learn about how it operates, they expressed great interest in seeing the milking process and in learning about how much work goes into dairy farming.

“You gave us better insight into the breeding process ... we never knew how much thought went into their genetic makeup,” the students wrote. “It was really interesting to see how favorable qualities are picked in producing your plants and animals, and we also really loved getting to see the newborn calf. We appreciate you explaining the misconceptions of the use of biotechnology, because it cleared up our confusion on the topic.”

The Chittendens were also thanked by the students for their “enthusiasm when teaching us about your work.” The students described their experience at Dutch Hollow as learning from people who are “very knowledgeable about what you do.”

This all led to the students observing in their thank you notes that they “never realized how complex farming is. It was a very new experience learning about preparing cows to milk and the amount of nutrients necessary for proper growth,” the students wrote. “It is fascinating that pesticides and insecticides are not as necessary when growing your crops due to biotechnology. We also enjoyed that you use safe chemicals such as Round-up. We appreciate the interactive side of your presentation – allowing us to smell the cow feed. And we thought your explanations were clear and informative.”

The students also recognized the passion the Chittendens have for their work and life in dairy farming and in educating students about what they do.

Perhaps best of all, the students thanked the Chittendens for sharing their fresh Cabot cheese and cheese curds, which they described as “very delicious!”