Kate and Noel Alden came from Columbus to Knox County in 1997 wanting to re-immerse themselves in the farming traditions of their collective past. Kate’s family were full time farmers who supported themselves by raising dairy cows in Northeast Ohio. Noel’s family, outside of outside work, farmed on the side. The Alden farm features a large barn from the WWII era and newer buildings constructed by the previous owner.
Since coming to Knox County, the Aldens have become engaged members of the community. Noel Alden is currently an attorney at Zelkowitz, Barry & Cullers in downtown Mt. Vernon, and had campaigned for the county court in 2016. Youngest son Russell Alden went to Danville high school. He is studying Psychology at Ohio State University. Through their social ties, the Aldens recruit neighbors and friends for machine work, silo maintenance, and similar chores that require specialized skills or an extra set of hands.
While maintaining the small business model, the Aldens are faced with the stark reality of falling prices for their sole product. Although they would like to sell directly to the Danville community, low prices and strict regulations force Alden milk to the Brewster Cheese plant, which distributes to corporate giants like Pizza Hut and Starbucks.
Even though economic pressures force Kate and Noel to work multiple jobs to finance their small family farm, they continue their livelihood, driven by a respect for hard work and a love for their animals as well as their placed community of likeminded farmers.
I’m attached to the animals, I care about what happens to them. It would be a very hard day for them to leave and not be here when I come out of the house. I think of them as individuals and not an aggregate… It kills me to send them to slaughter, it’s a funeral every time. I work so hard to keep them happy and healthy, it’s hard for me to not get attached to them-
I care about what happens to them.
Photo: Contrary to agribusiness practices, the Alden’s herd is not scientifically engineered. The family facilitates the calving process, and raise a diverse collection of Holstein, Guernsey, Brown Swiss, and Jersey Cows. The children work together to present the best cow at the Knox County fair.
Courtesy of Jerry Kean
Written by William Weber (’18) and Jerry Kean (’20)