New York—Hälsa Foods has announced a program to convert dairy farmlands to grow organic oats as an alternative for dairy farmers, according to a press release.

Hälsa co-founders Helena Lumme and Mika Manninen explained their reasoning: “Oats are one of the most environmentally friendly ingredients for making plant-based milks and other products. We are currently importing our organic oats from Scandinavia because we cannot find the quality that meets our standard in the United States. At the same time, U.S. dairy farms are struggling due to slumping milk sales. So we thought, why not come up with a solution that benefits both us and our planet?”

The release notes that oats are a resilient grain that protects against soil erosion and reduces the need for herbicides, while requiring much less water than other crops; Hälsa oats are currently grown in Scandinavia with a zero water footprint.
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The first farm to take part in the program has begun work at High Meadows of Hoosick Farm in upstate New York, with 300 acres of organic land with which to grow oats.

Eric and Jamie Ziehm, co-owners of the High Meadows of Hoosick farm, commented: “We’re excited to get started. Our goal is to build a biodiverse and biodynamic ecosystem that has the ability to regenerate its resources. We hope this will have a positive impact and also inspire our fellow farmers who are facing many challenges today.”

Hälsa has assembled a coalition of Scandinavian organic farmers, researchers and environmental experts to support the conversion process, the release says. Hälsa will put together a guidebook and a video that will serve as a blueprint for other dairy farms on how to start growing premium oats.