Hadley farm launches kickstarter campaign to support expansion

Aug 2 2014

Daily Hampshire Gazette. August 2, 2014. By Scott Merzbach.

HADLEY — More than two dozen dairy cows live at a Mill Valley Road farm, but they don’t yet provide milk for public consumption.

That could change later this year. Their owners hope to make these Brown Swiss cows more productive when they open a store that will sell a variety of local products, including raw milk.

“We just want our cows to earn their keep,” said Laurie Cuevas, co-owner of the Mill Valley Milk Company.

Cuevas and Bruce Jenks, who are also partners in the four-year-old Maple Valley Creamery Ice Cream, are aiming to have the new farm store and raw milk production facility running at 102 Mill Valley Road sometime this fall.

But before this happens, they are in the midst of completing a fundraising campaign on kickstarter.com with the goal of collecting $50,000, by Aug. 10. This money is needed to finish the project.

The work on the store, which is located next to an existing barn just a few hundred yards from the Route 9 malls, began with a $50,000 grant from the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction program, Cuevas said. Cuevas and Jenks then built the store and installed power and lights, but ran out of the money needed to complete it.

“It seems like a lot until you start putting it together,” Cuevas said of the fund-raising effort.

Cuevas said the money being raised will pay for the creation of a milking room, which will use stainless steel equipment to catch the milk from their dairy cows and process the product. The store also needs to get refrigeration units and freezers for storage.

Most of the Brown Swiss cows arrived at their farm as projects of 4-H students. Cuevas said she and Jenks work with area children to exhibit the cows at various shows and fairs.

“We’ve made the choice to keep them at the farm with us where we can utilize them for the milk,” Cuevas said.

Jenks added that the store will help preserve the Brown Swiss cows. “Without the facility to milk them, we will be forced to sell them or farm them out to larger commercial dairies,” Jenks said in a statement.

About eight to nine of these cows are currently expecting, which will mean even more ability to produce milk, Cuevas said.

Cuevas and Jenks’ farm is located on a portion of the 400-acre Fort River Farm, owned by Gordon and Theresa Smith.

Cuevas said she is confident, based on the growth of the Maple Valley Creamery, that she and Jenks will succeed. For four years they have created the ice cream, which is sold in almost 100 stores, including chain supermarkets such as Whole Foods, Stop & Shop and Wegman’s. Though none of the milk used in the ice cream is from their own cows, all milk used for creating the ice cream is sourced locally, from places such as Mapleline Farms.

Their farm also includes 30 or so beef cows that are used for Fort River Farm angus beef that is sold to local restaurants.

If all goes well with the raw milk production, Cuevas said yogurts, butters and cheeses made on site will be added to the locally raised produce available.

Cuevas said she feels it is important to bring back commerce to the farm, Already, Cuevas said, families stop by a farmstand and many children love being able to go inside the barn to view the cows. She and Jenks believe more of this can happen in the future.

“We want people to come to the farm and see the cows,” Cuevas said. “We’re determined to get this open.”

The fundraising campaign is at www.kickstarter.com/projects/millvalleymilk/mill-valley-milk-company-and-farm-store-project?ref=nav_search

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