Just when you thought the story of farming in American was only full of bleak tales, along comes a story of hope, resilience and environmentally forward-thinking.  And it is due in large part to your tastes and the public's changing preferences, for oat milk.

Halsa Foods Helena Lumme & Mika Manninen
©Hälsa Foods

Hälsa Foods, the maker of oat milk yogurts, announced that it has started working with dairy farmers in the  US to offer the opportunity to grow organic oats as an alternative to raising dairy cows, and they have assembled a coalition to support the farmers with the conversion process.

Founded by Helena Lumme and Mika Manninen, the oat yogurt brand is using a Scandanavian method of oat farming which reportedly results in cleaner, more nutritious and higher quality oat crops. Hälsa oats are now grown in Scandinavia with a "zero water footprint," according to the company, which wants to bring it to farms across North America.

©Moving Moment@stock.adobe.com
Oats are exploding in popularity as the public has a new-round romance with oat milk, oat ice cream and oat creamers. Oat has emerged as the most popular dairy alternative, with +184% more restaurants adding oat milk alternatives to their menus last year, and consumer interest in oats as a dairy alternative has grown 146%.

Hälsa has created a coalition of organic farmers, researchers and environmentalists to support the conversion process of farms in the US, and is planning to publish a guide book and video to provide educational support for dairy farms who want to start growing premium oats.

Tthe oat is a resilient grain that also serves to fight soil erosion control and reduces the need for herbicides. Oats require much less water than almonds, cashews or coconuts that are often used for non-dairy milks, each of which requires enormous amounts of water to grow.

“Oats are one of the most environmentally friendly ingredients for making plant-based milks and other products,” Hälsa co-founders Helena Lumme and Mika Manninen told an interviewer. “We are currently importing our organic oats from Scandinavia because we cannot find the quality that meets our standard in the United States. At the same time, US dairy farms are struggling due to slumping milk sales. So we thought, why not come up with a solution that benefits both of us and our planet?”

©Halsa Foods

The First Hälsa Farm to Convert is in Upstate New York

The first farm to start the work is located in Hoosick in upstate New York. The farm with 300 acres of prime organic land is currently home to 200 organic dairy cows.

“We’re excited to get started,” said co-owners of the High Meadows of Hoosick farm, Eric and Jamie Ziehm, whose third partner is Sam Cottrell. “Our goal is to build a biodiverse and biodynamic ecosystem that has the ability to regenerate its resources. We hope this will have a positive impact and also inspire our fellow farmers who are facing many challenges today.”