Boston, and especially the city’s storied sports teams is typically what people associate with Massachusetts. The New England Patriots, and more specifically Tom Brady, has been on the minds of teenage girls since he first stepped foot in Beantown. The state is home to much more than that including one of the largest ice cream distributers in the country, breeders of tanbark trail favorites, and a close-knit community of passionate and proud dairy farmers.
Although ice cream didn’t originate in The Bay State, many New Englanders are thankful for Friendly’s and the scrumptious ice cream the restaurant offers to its customers. Friendly’s was founded in the town of Springfield, MA and this year marks the company’s 75th anniversary celebration. With such famous slogans as “Where Ice Cream Makes the Meal” and “I Wanna Go to Friendly’s,” the company has been able to capitalize on its wide-array of ice cream flavors (with over 30 to choose from) and offers something pleasing to everyone’s palate. Nothing tastes better than a dish of Purely Pistachio® on a hot summer night!
Where does the milk come from to produce those gallons of ice cream contained in Friendly’s freezers? Much of the milk in the state is shipped to HP Hood LLC® located in Lynnfield, MA. Other notable brands that Hood supplies for include Heluva Good!®, Crowley®, and Lactaid® interestingly enough. Dairy farmers have trusted their milk in the hands of Hood for over 150 years and have helped the company grow into one of the most respected suppliers in the country. The most important aspect in the supply chain though is the hard working farmers supplying the product.
One of the most prestigious awards farmers in the state can receive is the Dairy Farm of the Year award, presented by the New England Green Pastures. The award is based on “achievement in dairy herd management, land stewardship, and contributions to agriculture and the broader community.” Last year’s recipient, and a leader in land conservation efforts, is Allard Dairy Farm. Owned by Wayne Goulet & Family, the dairy is situated in scenic Hadley, MA and home to 125 registered Brown Swiss cattle. The farm has consistently had animals place at the top of their classes at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA, the largest fair in New England. As of January 2010, the farm now produces ice cream under the Maple Valley Ice Cream Company name and strives to produce the great taste of “old-fashioned ice cream”: creamy, delicious, and wholesome. Allard Dairy is not only proud to dairy, but also proud of being conscious stewards of the land and purveyors of local, fresh ice cream.
Only a few miles down the road, and a past Dairy of the Year winner, Mapleline Farm is a fifth-generation farm home to quality registered Jersey cattle. The John Kokoski family owns the farm and in addition, operates a home delivery service under the Mapleline name. The delivery business originally began in 1904 and with service to local businesses and homes; customers anxiously await the arrival of their farm fresh products. The efforts of the farm help to rank Massachusetts in the top ten consistently for direct sales to consumers. Whenever a person drives by the farm store there is sure to be customer’s lining up to purchase some of America’s most desired beverage.
Always willing to assist farmers, and developing opportunities for youth through county 4-H programs, is the UMass Extension run through the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Many young farm kids join the 4-H program with the goal of learning more about their specific project areas, working on their leadership and public speaking skills, and meeting others that share a common interest in agriculture. In 2004, UMass began sponsoring the Massachusetts 4-H Dairy Camp which attracts over 100 youth annually from across New England. The camp features industry leaders in various areas ranging from fitting and showmanship to dairy nutrition to how to make rope halters. Additionally, the state hosts the Massachusetts 4-H Blue Ribbon Calf Sale, with proceeds benefitting the MA 4-H Dairy Program.
While Massachusetts will continue to have a “powerhouse” of sports teams that call the state home, there will also never be a short supply of proud dairy farmers to keep the tradition of agriculture alive. The number of farms in the past ten years has decreased but there still remain a number of family-owned farms. These farmers tend to the land on a daily basis ad emphasize the notion of “quality over quantity” in the milk they produce. Consumers can rest assured they’re buying quality dairy products, produced by farmers with a whole lot of compassion and maybe even a Boston accent too!