It was a text from another Generation-Organic Organic Valley dairy farmer that alerted me to the Organic Valley HQ fire. Within moments, I was in a texting conversation with fellow dairy farmers in Vermont, Oregon, California and Wisconsin. We were swapping information and photos. Due to the timing of the fire, most of us were also doing farm chores and milking cows. We were all thankful that no one was hurt, but we were all sad for our beautiful headquarters.

Organic farmers are resilient

The night after the fire, I was listening to the On Being podcast titled “A Shift in Humility: Andrew Zolli on Resilience and Expanding the Edge of Change” . In this episode Andrew Zolli speaks to how we need to create a culture of resilience. Too often our economic, social, environmental, etc policies focus on change mitigation. Instead he argues, our culture needs to focus on change adaptation. Change is going to happen. True leaders will adapt with change instead of trying to stop it.

I strongly believe that organic farmers are change adapters. When pests threaten our crops, we don’t simple destroy the pests, we instead adapt with nature to find solutions. When the dairy pricing infrastructure wasn’t working for small sustainable farmers, we adapted by creating our own cooperative that put farmer voices first. When consumers were begging for more organic, we adapted by growing our cooperative and seeking more opportunities to supply more wholesome products. As George Siemon so gracefully stated on the all farmers conference call the other day “Shit happens.” Yes, it does and we can either fall or rise up stronger.

What will the Organic Valley Headquarter fire mean?

I have no doubt that our cooperative will rise up stronger because of this. We are organic farmers. We are change adapters.

The pieces of the building will be put back together. Staff will return to their offices.  Life will continue with in our cooperative. The next days, weeks and months will be tough, but we are a resilient bunch.

As Annie sings

sunrise on farm, organic valley


“The sun will come up tomorrow!”

Thank you to everyone who continues to support our cooperative through this tough time. We are forever grateful for you!