Eastern States Exposition Agricultural Adventures Award presented to Gordon Cook, Jr. and Cook’s Dairy Farm, Hadley, Massachusetts
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The New England Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers presented Gordon Cook, Jr., and Cook Dairy Farm, Hadley, Mass., with the 2022 Agricultural Adventurers Award at the Eastern States Exposition Annual Meeting ( ESE), May 19, in West Springfield, Mass.
The award, sponsored by the Eastern States Exposition, was presented to the premier Holstein breeder and century-old dairy farm in recognition of Cook’s work in the purebred cattle industry, advocacy for dairy farmers as well as his services within the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact Commission.
He is a former bred executive. He received his Bachelor of Science in Animal and Veterinary Science from the University of Massachusetts and returned to the family farm in the mid-1980s, taking over from his father, Gordon “Pop” Sr., himself born in the farm.
Joseph G. Cook, founder of Cook Farm, purchased and began his legacy in 1909. The farm has been passed down from generation to generation with Gordon, Jr. (Gordy) and Gordon III (Hank), third and fourth generation, currently in running the farm, and Hank’s children, the fifth generation, living on the farm.
While Hank managed the day-to-day operations of the farm, Gordy held several positions with the Holstein Association USA, including two terms as At-Large Director, Vice President and President. He chaired the Legislative Affairs Committee and served on the International and Executive Committees. Gordy was also an integral player in the Northeast Dairy Compact, a formal agreement among New England states, which was enacted by statute to create regional prices for milk sold in New England states. Gordy served on the Compact Commission, which aimed to ensure the viability and sustainability of New England dairy farming. In his role with the Holstein Association and as a mass dairy farmer, Gordy also advocated for producer-controlled supply management and milk pricing, even testifying before Congress to gain support.
Cook Farm has won the title of top breeder for 18 consecutive years at the Massachusetts State Dairy Show, and embryos from their herd have been sought out and sold to farmers around the world, from England to Japan to Canada.
Through wise shopping and skill, Gordy and Hank have developed an exceptional herd of Holsteins. Their ability to produce and develop Holstein genetics is recognized in many areas. They sold and exported animals all over the world. The Cook Dairy Farm herd has consistently ranked among the best in the country for conformation – in 2020 they ranked 12th in New England and 27th nationally. They have won several breed awards, including the New England Master Breeder Award, the Holstein Association’s Progressive Breeders Registry Award, and the Progressive Genetics Herd Award, with the farm receiving the latter two regularly for decades.
In the ring, Cook Farm participated in the Eastern States Exposition for many years. Although they are elite breeders, they have also always been willing to open their barns and take the time to help generations of young 4-Hs learn, practice and develop skills in dairy judgment or quality breed evaluation.
Back on the farm, recognizing the need and opportunity to diversify the business into the ever-changing agricultural industry, Gordy’s late wife, Beth, had a vision: an ice cream stand and farm store. named Flayvors of Cook Farm, which became a reality, opening in 1998. Run by Hank’s wife, Debby, Flayvors offers the public an open farm experience and unique ice cream flavors, such as Inez and Ginger, from name of the two iconic cows on the stand panel, and Hadley Grass, an asparagus mix well known by locals. Over the past twenty years, the store has also become a source of quality raw milk, meat and local foods, as well as a valuable and memorable window into agriculture.
The Cook family exemplifies the hard work, innovative thinking and dedication required for a successful life in agriculture.
Cook Farm is now in its fifth generation with Hank and Debby’s children playing key roles. Over the years, each member and generation of this family farm has enabled and supported innovation and collaboration, ensuring the continued success and development of the family, farm and community through agriculture.
The Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers has honored outstanding leaders in New England agriculture since 1953. A special committee, appointed by the trustees of the Eastern States Exposition, selects its annual Fellow on the basis of innovation, pioneer and lifelong dedication to improving agriculture.