Articles about Engelbert Farms


The Engelbert Family


Brothers Joe and John Engelbert are pretty unusual in the world of organic farming: They’ve never known any other way to farm. That fact is thanks to their parents, Kevin and Lisa, who transitioned the farm to organic in 1981, before the boys were even born and before organic was even formalized. Now Joe and Deidre and John and Alyssa are raising their own children in a way of life that’s as comfortable as their own skin. The Engelberts have been members of Organic Valley cooperative since 2001.

“The credit goes to our parents, one hundred percent,” Joe says. “Other farmers talk about synthetic fertilizers or spraying chemicals and it’s Greek to me.”
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Engelbert Farms promotes, ‘Buy Local, It Matters’ and ‘Know your Farmers’

Joann R. Walter

Engelbert Farms’ early farm history dates back to 1848, when ancestors from Germany planted roots in Conklin, N.Y.  During the Civil War era, the farm moved to a different side of the Susquehanna River and remained in Broome County until they were uprooted by the Lackawanna Railroad expansion in the early 1900’s.


Great news for Tioga County, the Engelbert’s settled in Nichols in 1911 and have been there ever since. Located at 182 Sunnyside Road, every other dairy farm along the river and highway corridor for a distance of some 30 miles to Binghamton has been sold for development. For motorists traveling Route 17, Engelbert Farms may just be a quick glimpse near the Nichols exit, however the farm tells a remarkable story, which includes a resilience chapter of coming back after the flood of 2011.

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Flood Memories Still Fresh, Southern Tier Farm Moves Forward

Melissa Bravo

The historical accounts of the settlement of Nichols, N.Y., describe the south bank of the Susquehanna River in the vicinity of the mouth of the Wappasening Creek as a broad and fertile plain. It was known to European settlers in the late 1700s as some of the most productive land in the region.

This is the same land where the first of five generations of Engelberts moved in 1911. The German family arrived in America in 1848 and spent 18 years farming in the Conklin area before moving to Nichols.

When the Susquehanna River flooded on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1936, it was considered one of the worst floods in 100 years. The Susquehanna River Basin reported the river rose to a height of 21.40 feet near Waverly. A flood of such magnitude was unheard of then. The result was that levees were built to protect Nichols.

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Working around the clock to finish harvest


If you speak with many farmers in the area they will tell you that harvest is their favorite time of year; it’s a time to reap the rewards of all their hard labor. But they will also tell you that it’s a time of year when you watch the weather and keep an eye on the time change — getting out to the field to harvest crops at every possible chance you get.

For the Engelbert Farm in Nichols, N.Y., a transition to becoming certified organic producers in 1981 created additional challenges as the fifth generation farm worked, at that time, to cultivate and revitalize the soil in the fields in which their crops are grown.

Owners Lisa and Kevin Engelbert talked about the harvesting time of year, and described what it takes to operate a farming operation as large as the one they own, organically.

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Engelbert Farms of rural Nichols in New York State sure knows how to rack up milestones. Not only is Engelbert Farms a renown leader in the world of agriculture -- the farm first saw the light of day back in the mid-1880s when the Engelberts moved to nearby Conklin from Germany -- but Engelbert Farms is also the first officially certified organic dairy farm in the United States.

In the movie Barnyard, the animals live a carefree existence because the farmer is a vegetarian. The Engelberts aren't vegetarians, but they also don't believe in keeping their animals confined in tight pens to generate higher profits. This makes the Engelbert farm a great place to be if you are a cow or a pig. They get to live the life they were meant to live and get fed grass, organic grain, and other wholesome foods to keep them happy and healthy.

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Engelbert Farms: Organic Resurrection

from Organic Connections Magazine

As seen in documentaries like Food, Inc., it is clear that something has gone very wrong with “conventional” farming methods. Today crops are low in nutrients, plagued by pests, and showered with herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. Animals are treated in the least humane ways economically possible, and propped up with antibiotic and drug use in an effort to keep them marketable.

This is the story of one farm that survived a near-death experience—but revived by going organic.

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New York’s Engelbert Family: Cornerstones of American Organic Dairying

by Paris Reidhead

On May 2, 2014, I revisited the Engelbert Farm — just outside Nichols, New

York. I’ve known these organic dairy farmers since 1996, when organic milk production

was experiencing its first quantum leap in both production and consumer

demand. Kevin and Lisa were the first certified organic dairy producers in the

nation. This year, they’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of that status.

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What Does “Certified Organic” Really Mean?

by Lisa Engelbert

As organic products become more and more available in grocery stores and other retail outlets, there seems to be some confusion on what the “certified organic” label really means.

There are very strict regulations that organic farmers and processors must follow if they plan to label their products as “organic.”

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Working with Nature

How NY Couple Went Organic and Brought Farm Back from Brink

By Lindsay Debach

The scene is Engelbert farms on a raw January morning. The first milking has just ended, and 100 or so organic dairy cows line up near the barn for their breakfast of baylage and hay, the steam rising from their noses in staggered puffs. Across the way, a herd of pigs waits eagerly to be fed and beyond the barn, the frost-covered fields lie dormant until summer.


Kevin Engelbert and his wife, Lisa, are proud of their farm. Raising everything organically, they sell their milk, beef, pork and produce at their farm store and local establishments. But the pastoral grounds they manage today are a far cry from the infertile, clay-like fields and sickly herds that once defined this generations-old farm.

Kevin’s family has farmed in New York state since before the Civil War. He followed in his father’s footsteps and began working on the farm as a child, then helped manage it after he graduated from college in 1979.

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First Certified Organic Dairy Farm
Diversifying to include the next generation

Engelbert Farms, located in Nichols, NY, is owned and operated by Kevin and Lisa Engelbert and their sons Joe and John. They farm about 1800 acres of which 600 is owned and 1200 is leased; 600 is in permanent pasture and 550 – 600 acres are used for growing corn, soybeans, wheat and oats. They milk about 120 cows in a closed herd with average milk production per cow at 14,000 lb./year. Milk quality is around 150,000 SCC with 4.25% Butterfat, 3.5% Protein and 5.75% other solids. The organic dairy accounts for only a portion of the products produced and marketed from the farm. Other products they grow and market include: certified organic beef, pork, veal, livestock feed, a variety of cheeses, and vegetables. On top of all that, this farm family makes a point to get off the farm to stay involved in their local community and they are very active when it comes to agricultural issues on both a local and national scale.

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Engelbert Farms, LLC is a true FAMILY FARM!

Certified Organic by Vermont Organic Farmers


Kevin and Lisa Engelbert & Family

263 W River Rd

Nichols, NY  13812

(607) 699-3775

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Our Farm Store is in the historic Creamery building at 263 W River Rd, Nichols, NY.

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