Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tour of Shaw Dairy: Dracut, MA

Written by Glennon Beresin

This Monday, we had a GREAT time visiting Shaw Farm, a 103-year-old, fully operational Dairy Farm located in Dracut, MA. When we first arrived, we pulled into the parking lot of their pasteurizing facility that doubles as a beautiful retail space/ice cream stand. The building, we later learned, was newly constructed to incorporate epoxy flooring for pasteurizing that deters bacterial growth and is heated and cooled geothermally! While we waited for our tour leader to arrive, we excitedly scanned the ice cream coolers for post-tour purchasing. I was happy to see they carried seasonal flavors like pumpkin and apple strudel, AND had coffee Oreo, an all-time personal favorite.

Our tour leader, Warren, is the owner and manager and represents the fourth consecutive generation of their family on the farm. With his son following his footsteps, he lends the farm’s success and longevity to planned self-sufficiency and innovation. When many of his friends in the dairy business chose to opt in to cooperatives to sell milk to industrial processing, the Shaw family made the decision to remain autonomous. Like the fancy farm stand, their barn was also recently renovated with state-of-the-art ventilation to keep herd healthy. They are also always looking to expand business ventures in and around Boston, have a souped-up milk delivery truck and even a facebook page!

As we walked across the street to see the cows, we passed two gigantic trailers for raw milk storage. One tanks is for conventional milk and the other is for organic milk. Yet another reason the Farm is doing so well is that they have the ability to manage both kinds of herds successfully. By keeping the organic herd very small and in-line with the minimal demand in Dracut, they are able to fill stores in wealthier areas with their organic product (We were happy to know that even in for the conventional cows, he doesn’t use rBGH or regular antibiotics.).

Our tour ended, of course, back at the stand, where we all bought a bunch of delicious ice cream to take home! If you want to learn more about the Shaw Farm, look them up on Facebook! Bailey, their pet donkey, who we all befriended during the tour, regularly updates the site. Aside from all the great info, meeting him (he is a real donkey, very loving) was one of my highlights, along with being licked by a dairy cow.

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