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“Echo Farm Puddings: A 4-H Project Gone Haywire”
By Marcia Passos Duffy

Twelve years ago, the
Hodge family moved
to Hinsdale, NH from
Connecticut to live
a quiet life and maybe
own a horse and a few

That all changed with they met the neighbors. The Schofield family next door
had just built a barn and were showing, through 4-H, Jersey calves.  The rest,
they say is history.  The families – parents and adult children – who
affectionately refer to their business as “A 4-H project gonehaywire,” now run a
successful 160-cow dairy farm with a distinctive niche: Pudding.  

I visited Echo Farm nearly 5 years ago when I did a story on their pudding
business for
The Keene Sentinel. Back then, they were distributing to local health
food stores and just landed an account with Hannaford.  Echo Farms which
made its pudding debut with one flavor – rice pudding -- at the Cheshire
County Fair (Swanzey, New Hampshire) in 1997 now produces over 25,000
pounds of pudding a month in 6 flavors (rice, tapioca, chocolate, butterscotch,
coffee and caramel tapioca) several seasonal flavors as well (like Spice
Pumpkin and Maple) are available through its on line mail order business.  

While the business has since grown since I last spoke to them – they now
distribute to 8 states throughout the Northeast including to Hannafords, Shaws
and Stop & Shop supermarket chains and various co-ops and healthfood stores
throughout the region -- one thing hasn’t changed: They’re dedication to their
#1 workers -- their cows.  They recently obtained a “certified humane label
because of the excellent conditions their cows live in at the farm.

Certified Humane

It’s the first dairy farm in the U.S. to get the distinction, says Courtney Hodge,
the farm’s sales & marketing manager and the youngest of Hodge daughters
working on the farm.  While the milk used for the pudding production is not
certified organic because the farm cannot grow its own organic feed and cost for
organic feed would be prohibitive, said Hodge, what is more important is how
the cows are treated:  “An organic certification does not have a focus on how the
animals are handled.”  The “certified humane” label which they will soon add
to their pudding packaging, is species specific and focuses on everything from
the water tubs, to ventilation and emergency evacuation.

The farm has plenty of room to grow; it has a capacity to produce 200,000
pounds of pudding per month.  “But this is still a very small market,” Hodge
said, adding that the biggest players are Jello, Swiss Miss, Cozy Shack and a
few other regional brands.  Growth will be concentrated on the East Coast for
now with the next market being Washington, DC.  After that, the upper
Northwest part of the country, “…where there’s a big market for health food.”

For more information on Echo Farm Puddings, visit their web site at www.  While the farm is not open to the public, they do
enjoy giving school and club tours during the late spring and summer months.
To speak to someone about scheduling a farm tour, please contact Courtney at
(603) 336-7706 or direct your email to her at
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