“I get to be outside, and I live in a beautiful place”
With 400 acres to tend, 100 cows to milk, and five kids to raise, Shaun Riordan is a busy guy. A Ridgefield native who graduated from RHS in ’97, Riordan and his wife, Lauren, are the owners and operators of Grateful Morning Farm, a certified organic dairy farm in Shaftsbury, Vermont, that sells all of its milk to Organic Valley. “I see my kids every day, I see my wife every day, and I don’t have someone telling me what to do,” Riordan says. “I get to be outside, I live in a beautiful place, and I’m a very very lucky man.”
A far cry from his Fairfield County upbringing, Riordan has always had a special place in his heart for Vermont. He attended Green Mountain College for undergrad in his 20s and then went on to Towson University in Maryland where he received a Master’s in special education.
“Lauren found a house on a dairy farm for us to live in while I was in graduate school in Maryland,” says Riordan of his wife. “I made friends with the farmer and would help him out on the weekends and full-time in the summer. I came to realize that I much more enjoyed this kind of work.”
After graduation, Riordan started working as a transition coordinator for kids with severe disabilities. But farm life kept calling. He missed it. Eventually, the Riordans found a farm for sale that fit the bill, a rambling property in need of some TLC. In October 2014, after substantial renovations, Grateful Morning Farm was established.
“At first, it was just Lauren and me doing all of the work,” Riordan says. “Now, we have one employee who lives on the farm and helps out. Certainly, there are times when it gets overwhelming. There are not a lot of resources left for dairy farmers, but we got in at a good time. If I can succeed doing this, it’s a good life.”
CLASS OF THEIR OWN In addition to tending to cows and maintaining the farm, Shaun and Lauren homeschool their five children.