Many farmers hope to see the value they built over their life passed on to the next generation. In some cases, farms are handed to the next generation with years of sweat equity and generational wisdom built in. In other cases, farms and brands are acquired by an outside party interested in filling the void created by the retirement of a long-time operator. The story of Bridgman Hill represents a new generation of farmers in Vermont innovating the dairy industry and continuing the legacy of multiple operations.
Bridgman Hill Farm is a goat dairy located in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, with a 500 head herd. The farm is run and owned by Ryan Andrus and Annie Rowen in partnership with Jasper Hill Farm. The couple operating the farm have 15 years of experience running goat dairies in California. In partnership with Jasper Hill, Ryan and Annie converted a vacant cow dairy in Hardwick, Vermont to meet the needs of raising, managing, and milking a herd of goats. Any excess milk is sold to Jasper Hill to be made into a variety of specialty cheeses.
The main use of Bridgman Hill milk is for bottling under the Oak Knoll label, which can make up anywhere between 50-80% of their milk production. Oak Knoll is an established brand that originated in Windsor, Vermont which sells milk to markets throughout New England and down the east coast. Karen and George Redick created and built the Oak Knoll brand over the last 30 years. Through their hard work and dedication, they developed a strong brand. In addition, their strong relationships with regional distributors led them to the success they needed to stay in business over the long-term.
With new ownership comes change. After a couple years in operation Ryan and Annie, with support from Jasper Hill, sought to explore how to be more marketable in order to capture more profit by increasing demand for Oak Knoll milk. In 2021, Bridgman Hill Farm received a Marketing & Branding Services Grant from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center to support a rebrand of their Oak Knoll product line. These funds are being used to engage with Rival Brands, a marketing and branding consultancy, to help the partners of Oak Knoll more gracefully represent their high-quality milk and position the brand more strategically for future success. To date they have done much of the necessary brand exploration and have several potentials for their new label.
Though the project is not yet completed Annie, Ryan, and Jasper Hill Farm plan to launch a new Oak Knoll look soon!
The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center’s (NE-DBIC) Dairy Marketing and Branding Services Grant Program provides funds to established value-added dairy processors in the Northeast U.S. to access professional marketing and branding services to elevate their businesses. Projects funded by this grant increase the exposure and promotion of regionally produced dairy products guided by marketing/branding professionals. Funded projects increase consumer awareness of products, develop market channels and distribution opportunities to increase product placement, support innovative strategies to increase consumption, and/or increase business revenues.