The Bullis Family Farm, also known as Savage View Farm, was honored as the 2016 Business of the Year by the Lake Champlain Islands Economic Development Corporation at its Annual Dinner on May 12th at Shore Acres Inn and Restaurant.
Native to the Town of Grand Isle, the Bullis family has a long and prosperous agricultural heritage in the county. The 1907 Vermont Historical Society publication, Successful Vermonters, includes E. J. Parker a great grandfather of the Bullis clan, who started a regional creamery and also built the Round Barn in Grand Isle Town. The Bullis clan includes members who were involved in farming in a variety of other jobs: cattle dealers, John Deere equipment dealers, in addition to dairy farming. Back in the day, mowers, rakes and manure spreaders were all powered by horses.
Savage View Farm began operation in 1927. Ed and Helen Bullis purchased some land and 19 Holstein cows. In 1954 Ed and Helen’s son, Frank Sr., and his wife Nancy took over leadership of the farm. Initially, the farm totaled 60 acres, split on either side of Route 2 in Grand Isle town. After 31 years of farming, Frank and Nancy built the farm’s holdings to include 400 acres of land and 200 dairy cows. Here they raised their four children, Cindy, Frank Jr., Dwight, and Carolyn. All of the children worked on the farm during their formative years. Frank Bullis, Sr. fondly recalls, “in the 1950s, there were over 40 farms in Grand Isle town that produced milk. I remember that because both my grandfather and my father used to look after some of those farms for out-of-town owners”. The number of dairy farms in all of Grand Isle County now totals 14. How things have changed since then.
Today, Frank and Nancy’s son, Dwight farms Savage View Farm along with his wife Monica and their three adult sons; Tyler, Travis, and Ryan. Little did Ed and Helen know in 1927 that their herd of 19 cows would grow into one of the largest farm and business enterprises in the county. Nancy recalls, “Dwight is happiest when he is farming and it was clear from the start that farming was his calling.” Dwight, Monica, and their sons, along with a staff of 12 talented employees manage the day-to-day operations on the farm. The farm boasts 800 milkers, 800 heifers, and over 1,600 acres of cropland, including land that is owned and leased by the Bullis Farm. The farm produces 21 million pounds of milk each year. This amounts to over 6,800 gallons of milk each day.
Sixty-three percent of all milk produced in New England comes from Vermont, and dairy represents 70 percent of all agricultural sales in the state. Between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs are tied to the dairy industry in Vermont. The Bullis Family Farm continues its rich working lands heritage and is a major contributor to this vital economic driver of the Vermont economy.