After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Dairy Sciences and returning to the family farm in 1977, Albert Straus took over its management with his father. He immediately began implementing innovative farming practices that reflected his commitment to stewardship of the land.
The family had stopped using herbicides on the farm in the mid-1970s. In addition, in the early 1980s, Albert Straus replaced tilling fields, used to grow silage, with a no-till method of planting, to prevent soil erosion and reduce fuel consumption. And he stopped the use of chemical fertilizers (which had been minimal for decades) in the mid-1980s.
To bring food waste back into the system for cows, he started sourcing cow feeds from creative and unusual sources: such as buying orange peel and pulp from a family-owned fresh orange-juice factory in San Francisco; and buying rice sake waste from a small, local distillery.
Over the course of several decades, a manure wastewater pond system was implemented and improved beyond state and federal requirements. This enabled the dairy to use manure solids to be naturally composted and used as fertilizer, and to turn manure liquids back into nutrient-rich water for irrigation of pastures.
But innovative farming practices alone did not solve the plight which small, family farms were facing in California during this time. In order to help solve the economic problems family dairies were confronted with, Albert took a radical step: He converted the family farm to organic and founded Straus Family Creamery, the first 100% certified organic creamery in the country, thereby effectively creating the first field-to-bottle infrastructure for organic milk.