The history of the Lake Champlain and St. Lawrence River valleys is the history of the French farmers who settled the region. Nearly 400 years ago, the Bouchers received several allotments (seigniories) in New France, which eventually became Quebec, Canada. Wealth, respect, and additional land were the reward for supporting the community, but the risk was very high. During the French and Indian Wars one ancestor, Pierre Boucher, saved a besieged Fort Trois Rivieres by making peace with the Iroquois – a pivotal event in the history of the province. Boucherville was named in his honor and his statue stands on the grounds of the National Assembly Building in Quebec City. The French legacy remains in the religion, language, culture, and cuisine of the province.
For 14 generations the Boucher family has passed the farm from father to son. Rene moved the farm to Vermont in the 1940’s. Today, two of his grandsons, Daniel and Denis, perform the daily operations, milking 140 Holstein, French Normandy, and Guernsey dairy cows.
In the late 90’s, Daniel’s wife Dawn was exploring ideas that would create a job for her on the farm. In 1998, she began handcrafting cheese using the farm’s own milk, warm and fresh from the cows. With re-purposed equipment she made 100 pounds of blue cheese a month, gradually working up to the current output of 300 pounds a week (of washed-rind, blue, or aged tomme-style cheese). Cheeses are unpasteurized, aging a minimum of 60 days on site, with several varieties ripening over nine months before sale.
Shortly thereafter, Dan and Dawn started selling the farm’s meats, eggs and cheeses at the Burlington Farmer’s Market located in City Hall Park from Mother’s Day to Halloween each year.
Though Boucher Farm remains primarily a fluid-milk dairy, it is diversification that has enabled the farm to remain “in the family”. We recently began making butter, and bottling milk and buttermilk.
Dawn also writes monthly features about eating local for the “Green Mountain” Sunday section of the Burlington Free Press, and a bi-monthly column, “Life On The Farm” for the Enosburg County Courier (20 years and running).