California Cloverleaf Farms sells organic milk the family way

Merced Sun-StarAugust 31, 2011 

DENAIR -- Their hands tell the story.

Big. Wide. Thick. Rough. Hard.

Her hands and his hands.

Meridith and Zeb Burroughs, both 30, use their hands every day of their working lives. And they work most days of their lives.

They own and run California Cloverleaf Farms, a grass-based dairy nestled in the rolling hills and almond groves on the Merced-Stanislaus county line. They started with 700 crossbred heifers in 2003, and two years later started selling organic milk through the Organic Family Cooperative. Today they handle almost 600 cows.

The 950-acre dairy is a partnership with Zeb's dad and mom, Ward and Rosie Burroughs. That whole part of the county, in fact, could be called Burroughs Inc. for all the family enterprises flourishing there. A decade ago, Ward and Rosie divided their nearly century-old farming and ranching operations among their children.

Daughter Benina runs an almond farm called Vista Almonds and raises chickens and eggs. Daughter Christine and her husband Brian also run an organic dairy farm. Brother Joe lives off the ranch and grows some almonds.

"There's not any greater success than seeing your kids do well," says Rosie.

Somewhere along the line, the tribal DNA -- including that of the in-laws -- turned to the concepts of sustainability and organics. "It was Rosie who wanted to make this operation organic," Meridith says.

For Rosie, "the health of humans starts in the soil with healthy plants that provide nourishment for animals. Organics have brought new life to the soil. The whole ecosystem is alive and well."

Read the complete story at

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service