Local Milk Like the Old Days: Duncraven Farms Dairy at Cooperstown Farmers’ Market

One of the coolest new additions at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market this year is fresh local milk from Duncraven Farms Dairy.  Lots of people have gotten into “knowing their farmer” for local produce, with CSAs, farm stands, and, of course, farmers’ markets.  But it turns out that going direct with dairy is a bit more challenging.  Lyn from the Farmers’ Market had to go all the way to Fort Plain (still within 50 miles of Cooperstown) to find a dairy that sells milk, cream, and butter direct to consumers and would participate in the market.  The best part is that they do it with an old-style milk truck and reusable glass bottles.  For Cooperstown folks, we get to buy out of the back of the truck at the Famers’ Market, but people in the Fort Plain area can get it delivered to their door.  How’s that for classic convenience?

My son loves their chocolate milk.  Duncraven milk has a lot going for it.  It is hormone free from pastured cows.  The milk is pasteurized, homogenized, and bottled on site at the dairy.  You don’t get much fresher than that.  They sell half gallons of Whole, 2%, Skim, and Chocolate, as well as handy little pints available for drinking with your snack at the Farmers’ Market (Taste of Britain scones come to mind).  They also have heavy cream, light cream, and butter.  My mouth is watering just thinking about whipped cream made with Duncraven’s farm fresh cream on warm slice of berry pie.

I was surprised how challenging it was to find a local direct milk vendor, given that there are over 5,000 dairy farms in NYS and many in our area.  But the years (and price-driven industrial distribution model) have not been kind to small dairy farmers or localized dairy operations.  The small dairies of my youth, with their retail stores and milk trucks, are largely gone.  I remember a local dairy with an ice cream scoop shop that was one of my favorite stops growing up (Annis Dairy in Avon, NY) and a friend of mine worked the retail counter at the Livionia Dairy in high school.  Both are gone.  The economics of dairy farming have made small dairy farms a rarity and few dairy farmers with large operations want to deal with individual sales or deliveries.  It is challenging enough to manage the logistics of hundreds of dairy cows without the added headache of a retail business.

But I think Duncraven will be rewarded for their proactive business model and direct customer engagement.  It bucks the conventional wisdom on dairy profitability–bigger operations, more leverage of people, equipment, and land, hoping to get a few cents per hundredweight more for volume or premium product.  People are willing to pay a bit more for fresh, local, and direct.  Getting a price premium, selling less for more, and keeping all of the profits from production to consumer is a pretty appealing concept.  And it just feels better to focus on customers and community over pure industrial efficiency.  So, support Duncraven Farms Dairy  and check them out at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market or online.

About the Author
Devin Morgan is Co-founder and Of Counsel to Knull Group (www.eatdrinklaw.com), a firm for food-obsessed business and intellectual property lawyers in Cooperstown, NY.  He is focused on the growth of the craft food and beverage industry in New York State and is the primary author of the Eat. Drink. Law. blog.  Click here to receive a free report from Devin on growing a distinctive food or beverage business.  He is also a big fan of the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market.