Farmer Feature: The Mensonides Family

Over the last two years, Ryan and Haylee Mensonides haven’t taken more than three days off.

“We’re the crazy ones who do this work because we love it,” said Ryan.

Raised on his uncle’s dairy in Roy, Wash., farming has been in Ryan’s blood since he was a little boy. As an undergraduate at Washington State University, Ryan spent his summers on the family farm, helping pay his way through school.

After a go at public relations upon graduating, Ryan was called back to the dairy industry, and went on to work in a processing plant in California for the next 7 years. It was during these years that he met Haylee, a city girl with hopes and dreams that had little to do with farming.

Flash forward to 2016, and their story of farm life unfolds. Today, Haylee and Ryan are naturals on their organic dairy farm in Enumclaw, Wash., producing milk for Organic Valley. Ryan maintains the herd of 500 while Haylee manages all of the bookkeeping. Between the tireless work of keeping their farm running, the couple makes time for their other full-time job — raising up four small boys.

“Although I never envisioned this life, it’s an incredible place for our kids to grow up,” said Haylee. “They’re learning the value of hard work, and to appreciate where things come from. I don’t know if I could have taught them that anywhere else!”

Ryan and Haylee care deeply about the health of their land, and as they plan for the future of their business, are committed to organic production and ongoing land stewardship. With the success of their farm over the last few years, they’ve been thinking hard about ways to grow and sustain their operation.

“Like most small businesses, you need to either get big or diversify to survive,” said Ryan. “I want to actually be out there with my cows, caring for the land every day, so for us, diversification was a natural next step.”

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After hearing about Mountain View Dairy from a friend at church, Haylee and Ryan have had their eye on the land. They saw it as a perfect opportunity to broaden their business. In early 2015, when Ryan and Haylee heard about our conservation efforts, they were motivated to begin leasing the property, with an intention to purchase it over the next 10 years.

“At 284 acres, this new piece of land will allow us to graze and grow more feed for our organic dairy cows, produce grass-fed beef, and maybe even cheese to become a more vertically integrated farm. The possibilities are endless.”

By the end of this year, PCC Farmland Trust will have protected Mountain View Dairy, and it will be the largest conservation project to date in Pierce County. Our conservation will not only allow a highly valuable, under-utilized farm to transition back into production, it will enable farmers like Ryan and Haylee to continue producing food for their communities.

“We just want to have a positive impact on Pierce County, and leave something behind for our kids. Mountain View Dairy – and the generosity of others – helps us do that.”

Help us build on this momentum in 2017 by making a gift today