June is Dairy Month! No matter your dietary preference, it’s difficult to diminish the role that dairy products have played in American food culture. From the first doorstep delivery to recent Got Milk? campaigns, the U.S. has steadily consumed large amounts of dairy. In 2020 alone, the USDA’s Economic Research Service estimated over 600 pounds of dairy products per capita (see more dairy data from ERS here)!
Unfortunately, the U.S. love for butter, cheese, and ice cream hasn’t been kind to the farmers producing these goods. A long conversation can be had regarding the challenges facing dairy farms, and, like most other aspects of our food system, many of these challenges stem from large-scale industrialization of our food supply. Most recently, over 130 family farms throughout the Northeast were on the receiving end of terminated contracts, their processors leaving them in an incredibly precarious position. With fewer family-owned dairies than ever, U.S. consumption is relying on an unsustainable and unhealthy industrial dairy industry to supply our incredible demand. We need to ensure the success of local family farms versus large agribusiness.
New Jersey currently has less than 50 licensed dairy farms, quite a small number for a state of over 9 million residents, though the farmers and farms that make up this cohort are beyond impressive. These farmers are business-savvy their herds and flocks are healthy and happy, and their products are beautiful, nourishing and delicious. Although NJ is not known for dairy farms, we indeed have something to talk about when we talk about dairy.
Not all of us eat cheese, drink milk, and enjoy an ice cream cone, but all of us should support and promote local family-owned dairy and creamery operations, especially those practicing organic and regenerative farming. Check out NOFA NJ’s 2022 listing of New Jersey Dairies and Creameries below (starting with NOFA NJ members and partner farms) and be sure to Support Local Foods!
Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse (Milford, NJ) Founders Jonathan and Nina White are pioneers of modern-day, 100% grass-fed, farmstead cheeses in the United States. When they founded Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse on leased land in 2002, the purpose was to prove that it was possible to make small-scale regenerative farming a viable and vibrant option for landowners in the northeast. Jonathan & Nina’s commitment to local and organic has led to international awards, a loyal following, and a variety of incredible local products. Bobolink’s farm store is open daily (closed Tuesdays), and their products can also be found at farmers markets throughout NJ.
Gorgeous Goat Creamery (Stockton, NJ) First-generation dairy farmers Maria and Matt started the farm in 2018 selling firewood and handmade soap under the name Stewgler Farm & Forest. Shifting towards farmstead dairy, Gorgeous Goat Creamery was launched in Summer 2020. Matt & Maria make all products on the farm, with milk from their herd of Alpine dairy goats. Current offerings products include pasteurized goat’s milk in glass bottles, farmstead cheeses, including fresh goat cheese such as chèvre and feta, goat’s milk yogurt, whey, buttermilk, and handcrafted goats milk soap.
Spring Run Dairy (Pittstown, NJ) is a family-owned dairy farm committed to ethically producing high-quality dairy products. Farmers Dan and Sarah tend to over 50 cows on over 100 acres, producing creamline milk that is processed and packaged on-site. Spring Run Dairy milk can be purchased on-site and via partners at farmers markets and local grocers.
Cherry Grove Farm (Lawrenceville, NJ) is a diversified, sustainable dairy farm and creamery situated on 480 acres of woodland, wetland and pasture in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, making award-winning farmstead cheeses from grass-fed raw cows’ milk. Their cheeses are made in small batches and aged on the farm, with each piece reflecting the distinct flavors, aromas and seasonal variations of their unique terroir. As part of a sustainable ecosystem, Cherry Grove also raises a small number of heritage breed pigs, chickens and beef cattle, producing grass- and whey-fed meats, raised without hormones, antibiotics or steroids.
Misty Meadow Sheep Dairy (Petersburg, NJ) South Jersey’s only Grade A dairy farm, Misty Meadow Farm raises East Friesian Dairy Sheep. After lambing, the ewe and lamb stay together for 30 days before separating. Their flock is milked twice per day seasonally and dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt & frozen treats are made with the fresh sheep’s milk. Misty Meadow sheep are fed non-GMO grain feed and hay, along with grazing and added minerals. Their products can be found at farmers markets throughout South Jersey.
Fulper Family Farmstead (West Amwell, NJ) is a 5th-generation, 100+ year-old family dairy farm producing a variety of products for the local retail and wholesale markets. Fulper Family Farmstead grows its own feed, utilizes solar power throughout the farm, and focuses on soil conservation and proper nutrient management, constantly working towards greater sustainability. You can find Fulper Family Farm products at farmers markets and grocers throughout NJ and eastern PA.
Valley Shepherd Creamery (Long Valley, NJ) Milking over 800 sheep, 200 goats and 50 cows, Valley Shepherd utilizes European traditional methods to produce many cheeses from grazed animals milk. All of their hard cheeses, aged over 60 days, are made from raw milk and traditional rennet, and their yogurt is made from 100% pure grazed sheep’s milk, free of hormones. You can find Valley Shepherd products at farmers markets, groceries and at their on-site farm store.
Jersey Girl Cheese (Branchville, NJ) is a small-batch, artisan farmstead producing fresh and aged italian cheeses. Jersey Girl Cheese is located within Hillcrest Orchard & Dairy, and their products can be purchased at farmers markets and through their Cheese Shop in Rockaway, NJ.
Sugar Maple Jerseys (Sergeantsville, NJ) Sugar Maple Jerseys is an award-winning, family owned and operated dairy farm and country store located in Stockton New Jersey. Founded by Heidi Kovacs in 2013, Sugar Maple Jerseys consists of a small registered herd of Jersey Cows. Sugar Maple Jersey products can be found at area farmers markets and at their farm store in Sergeantsville.
Hun Val Dairy Farm (Ringoes, NJ) Hun-Val Dairy Farm breeds, raises, and milks quality Holstein and Brown Swiss dairy cows, producing milk products and ice cream that can be purchased on-site. Additonally, Hun Val has partnered with Double Brook Farm to open the Red Barn Milk Company, also in Ringoes, NJ.