Fort River Farm

Fort River Farm’s beef cattle grazes out in the pasture. 

Picture Bruce Jenks stands in front of a group of his cows. Fort River Farm is managed by Bruce Jenks, pictured to the left. Bruce cares deeply for the animals that he works with and says caring for them is his favorite part of the job. He grew up across the road from Fort River Farm on his father’s farm operation and you can tell when you talk to him that farming is in his blood. The way Bruce interacts with his coworkers, customers, and cows makes it clear how much he loves what he does. “I haven’t taken a day off in seven years,” Bruce laughed, “and when I did, I went to a dairy conference.”  If you live in New England, you know that eating locally and seasonally can seem a bit dreary during the long winter season. However, dairy and beef can be found locally all year round. Additionally, all of the cattle at Fort River Farm are grass-fed and pasture-raised so they are treated as humanely as possible. This also increases the sustainability of their business because they do not have to order feed for their animals.  

Fort River Farm, located less than four miles from campus in Hadley, MA provides UMass Dining with high quality, pasture-raised Black Angus beef. All of the beef produced from Fort River Farm is processed in Vermont and is both certified prime and certified humane. Beef cattle can be found grazing on Fort River Farm’s 60 acres of land, 365 days a year. Bruce says that the cows prefer to be outside in the fields all year round even through snowy New England winters. 

Fort River Farm is also home to upwards of 25 Swiss cows of all ages that are raised for their raw milk. This is such a small, select group that, unlike on most dairy farms, Bruce knows all of them by name. They bottle fresh raw milk every day and any milk that is too old to be sold is fed to their pigs to minimize their food waste. The beef cattle are tended to by other farmers on their team, but Bruce takes sole responsibility for caring for his five Swiss cows.  

Picture Bruce Jenks explaining how Fort River Farm cares for their black Angus cattle. Picture Silver, one of their Swiss cows grazing in the pasture. 

Aside from raising cows for beef and raw milk, Bruce also owns and operates Maple Valley Creamery and the Mill Valley Milk Store. Maple Valley Creamery has been making ice cream for nine years, and source Jersey milk from other farms to make their product. Every year, Maple Valley Creamery collaborates with the UMass Amherst Food Science department to hold a competition where students compete in groups to make the best flavor to add to Maple Valley Creamery’s wide selection. Their newest flavor – root beer float – won this year’s competition

Thank you so much to Bruce Jenks for the hard work that you do to care for your animals while supplying conscientiously-raised beef and dairy products to the local community!  
To purchase Fort River Farm’s grass-fed meat, raw milk, and Maple Valley Creamery ice cream, 
check out their farm store located in Hadley. Here, you can also find an abundance of other local products from farmers and vendors in the area. For more information about their farm visit their website
Photo Credit: Keith Toffling