Brooke Skiba

Features Editor

Local couple Courtland and Jenny Rocco are starting a crowdfunding campaign in order to develop BlueLoon Farm, their diversified 46-acre farm in West Salem, Ohio, into a micro-dairy. Mr. Rocco reached out to the campus community with his story in an attempt to find a student interested in making the promotional video for a Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and Adrian Rowan ’16 picked up the task.

The Roccos were inspired to begin their project after finding out that a nearby organic farm is being sold and its cattle auctioned off. Mr. Rocco has milked the Jersey cows on the organic farm for the last three years and bonded with them during that time. Though he admits the cows may be sold to a good home, he does not know for sure where many of them will end up. For this reason, the Roccos decided to convert their farm into a micro-dairy in order to give around 10 of the cows a good home.

“It’s the driving force — three years I’ve been milking these cows,” Rocco said. “They require repetition. They like the same things every single day. If you change something, they know it. It puts a little stress in them. Because they’ve gotten to know me and my voice, they are very comfortable with me handling them.”

BlueLoon Farm is largely guided by principles of preservation and diversity. The farm produces heritage breeds of livestock and heirloom varieties of plants. The Roccos hope to retain the cow’s organic status by becoming certified organic. Both Rocco and his wife, who works as an organic farm inspector, believe in organic farming on a fundamental level.

In order to convert the farm into a micro-dairy, the Roccos will need to make many additions to their current farm including a milk house and parlor, trenching and waterlines through that area, a whole new water system and pressure tank, all the hardware -— including a bulk tank and the milking system itself — and a lane in a field for the cows to pass through.

Though these additions will require a great deal of work on the Roccos’ part, Mr. Rocco said, “I see it as an honor to be able to take these girls. I feel they deserve that respect; they deserve that good hand of the human that’s going to do something for them instead of the other way around.”

Rowan, who has agreed to help   the Roccos, hopes to capture their love for animals and sustainable agriculture in the crowdfunding video. She said, “What’s unique about Courtland and Jenny is their deep personal connection with their farm and their animals, and I want that to come across in this video. I want to portray the fact that this is not simply a business venture for them — they are farming out of a love and commitment to sustainable practices and out of a love for the animals they have.”

Rowan has been interested in agriculture from a young age, with her interest peaking after taking Sustainable Agriculture with Professor Matt Mariola. She is an art major at the College, so the video request was well-suited to her interests.

The Roccos’ request was originally forwarded to students on the WooEnvironment ListServ by Mariola and then by Sustainability Coordinator Sb Loder to student group ListServs.

Rowan suggested that other students get involved in the Roccos’ cause. She said, “Once their Kickstarter is up and running it would be absolutely fantastic if Wooster students could donate and more importantly spread the word about their cause. Any and everything counts.”