The Yegerlehner Family
In 1851, David and Magdalena Jegerlehner (the Swiss spelling) and their children left their home in Switzerland to travel to America. Initially, they settled in Holmes County, Ohio. A few years later, they purchased 104 acres of land in Clay City, Indiana.
The family dairy farm was begun in 1950 by Alan's parents, Kenneth (the 5th generation) and Mary Lois. Seven generations from when David first settled it, this land still remains a part of the current farm today. It has been home to many hard-working family members over the years, as well as cows, pigs, chickens, and some horses and donkeys! Alan and his father Kenneth also grew grain crops for several years. In the 1970's they sought to manage their farm sustainably, using alternative tillage and conservation practices. The dairy, however, continued to be managed for many years as a confinement operation. In the early 1990's Alan learned about seasonal dairying and rotational grazing, which was the beginning of a new era for us all. By the end of the decade, the dairy became the sole farm enterprise, and we entered the realm where the gap is closed between the farmer and the consumer (a.k.a. co-producer).
Alan, Mary and their children Kate, Luke, and Jess were fortunate enough to travel to Switzerland in 1996. They were blessed with the opportunity to meet some of their Swiss relatives. While visiting, they witnessed cheese making in their relatives' small village of Bleienbach. After this experience, Alan developed a dream of making cheese one day back at his own farm. In the summer of 2000, Alan's dream became a reality with the first batch of cheese, and over Labor Day weekend, he and his family celebrated the grand opening of The Swiss Connection.
100% grass-fed dairy and animal products
We now manage it as a 100% grass-fed operation, creating artisanal raw cheeses from the rich golden milk of our pasture-fed cows since 2000. "The Farm Connection" is nestled northeast of the small town of Clay City, Indiana (known as "Mayberry of the Midwest"), about an hour's drive from the Indianapolis airport. Visitors to the farm can see the cows grazing, the milking barn, and even watch the cheesemaking process on the days when cheese is being made.
In addition to being 100% grass-fed, our animals are raised without using hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. So although our cheeses, beef, and pet products are not certified organic, we are confident they're even better! It is a privilege to be taking care of a part of creation, which in turn allows us to be a part of meeting the needs of the people whose paths we cross.
Alan and Mary, along with their daughter Kate, own and operate the farm located in Clay City, Indiana, which is now called "The Farm Connection". Kate is the seventh generation to manage the farm. Luke and his wife Lauren live near Indianapolis. He currently works as an air traffic controller and she works as a nurse practitioner. They have two children, Eli and Lucy.
Jess lives in Pennsylvania and works for Eaton Corporation in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Earth Boy- Jason & Kathy Cote
Jason and I were first invited to the "Farm Connection," a real, working 100 percent grass fed dairy farm, in 2009. We've been here ever since. Together we have established a microcosm based on trust, hard work, and determination with enterprises like beekeeping, gardening, herbs, trees, laying hens, shiitake mushrooms, breeding flocks, and value added products like kombucha and kraut. We operate an on-farm store, where Mary Yegerlehner has incorporated many products from local farmers. Alan still makes his homemade ice cream.
My husband and I were originally inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing, who revolutionized the "back to the land movement." We love them and strive to live more like they did.
Continual projects on the farm include keylines, a permaculture technique for salvaging run-off water and redistributing it to different levels of ground, installing thousands of trees, bushes, and ground level perennial crops, offering classes and tours, and remaining open to change.
Our future goals are building an off-the-grid house, producing a complex food forest, starting a nursery stock of trees, growing our own food, and extending a helping hand where needed.
Jason and Kathy Cote
1093 E. C.R. 550 S.
Clay City, IN 47841