About Suzanne & Hubert Karreman, VMD
Dairy cows brought Suzanne and Hue together — he was the vet giving the talk at a 2015 Acres USA conference, and she was the farmer in the front row. Five months later they were married and farming together. Caring for their own 80-cow Jersey herd and helping others to grow their pastured-dairy dreams now consumes their days.
Hue is still the vet: innovator and formulator of holistic treatments for the company that bears his name that Suzanne helps manage, resource for farmers and other veterinarians with organic husbandry, as well as caretaker and milker of the farm’s A2A2, 100% grass-fed Jersey herd. And Suzanne is still the farmer: coordinating the nursing relationships of 80+ calves on their own dams, grazing and improving 250 acres of pasture and breeding her beloved Jersey cows to produce butter from sunshine.
The 400 acres they manage also includes a flock of primarily St. Croix sheep, Berkshire pigs, eight (8!) Great Pyrenees, four horses and 40 Jersey bulls of mixed ages that travel all over the U.S. and Canada, either on hoof or in straws, to breed more cows that can efficiently convert forage into high-component, high-cheeseyield milk. The milk is made into cheese at Chapel Hill Creamery, which they recently began operating when the long-time owners retired.
The farm, located in the Piedmont of North Carolina, started with a single-family cow and a ¼-acre garden while Suzanne was pregnant. Vivian, who is now 14 years old, milks the herd and schools herself at home. Suzanne’s parents and brother are also involved, making the farm a three-generation livestock operation with the middle generation being the first to farm in several generations.
Hue and Suzanne both grew up in the northern suburbs — he outside Philadelphia and she Chicago — and a circuitous route brought them both to an agrarian life in a part of North Carolina more culturally rural than its proximity to Chapel Hill would suggest.
After getting a degree in soil science from the University of New Hampshire, Hue worked on dairy farms for six years, including in his parents’ homeland of Holland. He learned homeopathy, botanicals, and biologics on Seven Stars Farm in 1988, and it was there that he had a strong leading to go to vet school. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he has bridged the holistic and conventional veterinary worlds with his pioneering work. He practiced “in the trenches” dairy medicine for two decades in Lancaster County, Pa., working with almost 100 certified organic Amish farms. From 2005 to 2010 he served as the chairman of the livestock subcommittee on the U.S.D.A. National Organic Standards Board. He has written three books on natural treatments for dairy cows. His passion is reducing the reliance on antibiotics and hormones in livestock.
Prior to farming, Suzanne was an investigative reporter on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. She covered money in politics and the “inside baseball” of the U.S. Congress for Roll Call Newspaper, then a subsidiary of The Economist. A couple of life-shattering encounters with the conventional medical system caused her to rethink the foundational role food plays in health, and she began a radical journey to grow food that at first led her to a year in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.
She choose North Carolina to start a homestead in 2007 because of then-inexpensive land coupled with nearby universities (and burgeoning food culture). With her first cow and heifer, along with a small cadre of goats, sheep and chickens, she began to learn the forgiveness in grass and the alchemy of restorative food systems. From 2016 to 2019, Reverence Farms ran a farm-to-fork cafe, with 90% of the food sourced within five miles — ultimately shutting it down because their rural community wasn’t ready to metabolize the true cost of a hamburger (healthy cooking oils, fair wages for labor and integrity in ingredient sourcing). Suzanne’s passion remains helping to restore the rural community they are a part of by forging relationships and creating opportunities for solar-powered agriculture, which also includes helping those getting started in dairy navigate the unique challenges of lactating animals.
2023 Homesteaders of America Conference
TOPIC: Pragmatic Idealism on the Homestead