We’ve always tried to highlight that New England and New York is the one region in the country where the average age of farmers is declining, the size of farms is declining, and the number of farms is increasing.  All positive trends in our view, supporting a vision of a region that can feed itself.  We are beginning to see a local agricultural renaissance, which we deeply believe is important to healthy soils, animals, and communities.
We wanted to congratulate one of our newer partner farmers, Cayden Theberge, 19, who just purchased a 68-acre farm in Sheldon, Vermont.  He’s growing the dairy side of his business, which, in addition to the work he does for Walden, includes a cow-calf operation—raising beef cattle to sell from a permanent herd on his farm. Every day, as dawn breaks, Cayden feeds his cows and checks the pastures he manages: some belong to him, some his parents, and some his grandparents. Once satisfied, he gets into his car and drives to school.

“I have a couple of days a week I come down to Randolph, which is about an hour-and-a-half drive one way, and then the other two days I have class in Williston which is about 45 minutes,” he said. “From there, I’ll come home and do it all over again: feed cows, clean the barn, and then I’ll probably do homework and try to keep up with my bookkeeping.”

By 14, between sports practice and homework, Cayden was already buying and selling cows at the cattle auction.  Shawn Miller, son of legendary Vermont cattle dealer, Sonny Miller, took notice of the teenage boy at the market and encouraged Cayden to apply for a scholarship in the FARMS 2+2 program at the University of Vermont/Vermont Technical College.

“It’s hard to go out and buy a farm at a young age and make a living nowadays,” said Cayden. At UVM/VTC, Cayden not only learns about animal science, but also about dairy farm management, agriculture business, and “just being more efficient.” He says that technology and an awareness of environmental issues set today’s young farmers apart from their predecessors. Cayden also sites support from Walden members as instrumental to his success.

“I thank Walden for what they’ve done for me and for giving me an opportunity to get up off my feet,” he said. “I’d like to keep expanding and growing with them.”

When you support Walden, you are supporting young entrepreneurs like Cayden: young, smart, and industrious local farmers.  “Walden definitely helps a lot of people around here,” he said. “I think what they’re doing, as far as wanting to know where your food comes from and what it’s being fed, is very important. And that’s kind of what I sold myself on from a young age.”

Thanks to our members for helping to get Cayden up and running with his own operation!