NY Farm Bureau Member Honored for Best Startup Product

Hidden Pastures Dairy, a goat farm in Glenfield, NY, received a $10,000 check Thursday, November 9 in Lowville, NY for being recognized as a best in show winner in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2018 Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher presented the winnings to the farm’s owners, Andrew and Blake Place, Lewis County Farm Bureau members.

Hidden Pastures is among 10 farms recognized in the national competition of nearly 500 applicants. They won their category of Best Local Product Startup for their plans to produce goat milk gelato on their farm.

The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs with food and agriculture businesses. Through the competition, AFBF has supported more than 1,000 rural entrepreneurs from 37 states, providing more than $500,000 in startup capital, mentorship, networking with investors and publicity. For the 2018 competition, 471 applications were submitted from 47 states and Puerto Rico. Awards were given for the best startup in several categories that highlight diverse and emerging trends in food and agriculture, including agricultural technology, craft beverage, agritourism, farm-to-table, farming and local product.

Sponsors of the 2018 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge include Farm Credit, John Deere and Farm Bureau Bank.

“New York Farm Bureau is proud of Hidden Pastures Dairy and would like to congratulate the farm for receiving this wonderful honor. Blake and Andrew Place represent innovation happening on farms across the state to grow their business and offer consumers new and exciting local products,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.

The Places purchased their farm in 2015 and within the first year of living on the farm they went from having 20 goats to about 160 and began to embark on creating a goat milk dairy. Andrew and Blake, who have two small children, are both animal science graduates from Cornell, with deep roots in agriculture. Andrew began to build facilities during the winter of 2016 to accommodate their pregnant does. They began to use their milking parlor in April of this year and as groups kidded, they got up to milking 140 does and currently ship their fluid milk to a creamery three hours from their farm. The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge Award will help fund the construction of a creamery on the farm to grow their herd and work on their gelato product development. They are hoping for a spring launch of their final product. The Places say they are anxious to get the gelato into the hands of customers and are certain people will love its delicious flavor.

“Life is all about taking a chance and putting your heart on the line for something you believe in. We are so grateful that Farm Bureau and the Rural Entrepreneurship Judges took a chance on us and we are forever thankful for the generous award,” said Blake Place of Hidden Pastures Dairy.

“We were extremely amazed that we won the award and are excited to see what lies ahead for our farm and our family,” said Andrew Place of Hidden Pastures Dairy.