As a farmer-led community, our 1,000 dairy farm families are at the heart of what we do. Spanning from Pennsylvania to Georgia, each farm is unique. Some have been passed down through several generations while others are just breaking ground. Some remain founded in hard-earned traditions while others welcome the opportunities of what’s to come. Some specialize in delivering by the glass while others share the goodness inside a cone. Large or small, young or old, there is one thing each of our farm-families has in common – a shared passion for providing safe and wholesome dairy goodness that hasn’t wavered for nearly 100 years.
We are proud to introduce you to our farmers and celebrate their passions and stories with you.
Dave and Marie Graybill operate Red Sunset Farm in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. They milk 58 cows and farm 400 acres, 375 acres of which are crop land and the rest is pasture. The Graybills are first generation farmers and they started their dairying adventure 19 years ago on the rented farm.
“One of the reasons I wanted to farm was the lifestyle, to introduce our children to hard work and responsibility,” said Marie Graybill. The Graybills have two adult children, daughter Heidi and son Corey.
The Graybills give credit to their employees Brad Diffenderfer works full time on the farm and part-time milker Kathy Burns, for maintaining a consistent milking routine and keeping the animals well-cared for.
“We are about sustainability on our operation. We want healthy plants, healthy animals and we want clean water,” said Dave. The Graybills implement all no-till farming, use cover crops and have a voluntary Act 38 nutrient management plan which has been in place since 2011. They installed a manure pit with a leak detection system, a compost facility and buffer strips. To improve groundwater, the Graybills also put in a barnyard runoff system. The Graybills also keep 16 honey bee colonies.
Dave’s passion for environmental stewardship goes beyond his farm gate. He is active with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and is the chair of the state Farm Bureau’s Natural and Environment Resources Committee. “This allows me to be at the forefront of understanding what’s going on with keeping clean water clean in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Dave.
The Graybill’s were recognized as Maryland & Virginia’s 2018 Producer of the Year award in the Federal Order 1 & 33 category, a top distinction awarded to two members each year.
Wes Kent, who is a first-generation dairy farmer, started his farm, Winding River Farms, in 2000. He runs a diversified operation of 110 dairy cows that are milked by Lely robotic milkers, plus he has two poultry houses and raises about 100,000 turkeys each year, and an Angus cow-calf herd along with a small feedlot. Wes farms 650 acres of owned and rented ground of corn, alfalfa and hay.
“The robotic milkers allow us to have a very stress-free dairy herd and the cows are able to get milked on their own terms and have their own schedule,” said Wes. The decision to install robots three years ago was easy according to Wes. Prior to the robots, they were milking in a 40-year old parlor.
Wes and his employees, Annie Cekada and Rob Abbot, all make animal care a top priority on the farm. “I’m lucky enough to have the best employees I’ve had in 18 years right now.”
Annie is the herdsperson and she manages herd health and breeding, calf feeding and robot maintenance and record keeping. Rob feeds and manages the older heifers and takes care of the poultry operation. Wes, Annie and Rob all work together to complete the field work.
On the dairy, cows are housed in a composted bedded pack barn. “I like the bedded pack for cow comfort reasons, the cows have more freedom and comfort where they lay down,” said Wes.
The dairy cattle housing is kept well-bedded year-round. “I’m a stickler on bedding; it’s a huge expense, but worth it. I do not like having a dirty calf pen or dry cow barn,” Wes said.
Wes’ farm is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and caring for the land and water is very important. The farm has an enhanced nutrient management plan, and Wes uses mostly no-till and plants for cover crops. He makes sure waterways are fenced off and pastures have automatic waterers for the animals.
Wes and his team’s dedication to the farm is evident in how well the farm is cared kept. Winding River was awarded the Maryland & Virginia’s 2018 Producer of the Year award in the Federal Order 5 & 7 category, an honor given to only two members each year.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to farm,” said Wes. From routinely shipping quality milk, to focusing on cow care and environmental stewardship, Wes has found the perfect occupation.
The Phillips Family operate North Point Farm, which consists of three dairies, in Waynesboro, Virginia.
Today four generations are involved in the farm, which has been owned by the family since the 1800s. The Phillips have milked cows for 75 years and have shipped milk to Maryland & Virginia for 55 of those years.
Kevin Phillips along with his three brothers Daniel, Wilmer, Winston own the farm. Kevin’s niece cares for the calves and his nephew oversees the cow feeding, his son manages the crops and helps feed. “I’m proud that it’s still one family running the farm and we are lucky to have multiple working here together,” said Kevin Phillips.
Caring for the environment is critical to ensuring the farm’s future, so the Phillips have a long history of implementing sustainable practices. Since the late 1960s, they have used no-till farming. They closely follow their nutrient management plan and have fenced off most streams.
North Point milks a total of 1,200 cows and farms 3,500 acres. To keep the herd management consistent, they have one manager to oversee all three farms. And the milking protocol is the exact same for all three operations to ensure milk quality.
“A cow has no clue what the price of milk is, so if you take care of her, she’ll take care of you so make her happy at all times,” said Kevin.
The Phillips family received Maryland & Virginia’s 2018 Producer of the Year Finalist award in the Federal Orders 5 & 7 category.
John and Paula Steel operate Steam Valley Farms. They are the third generation to till the land since John’s grandfather purchased the farm in 1939.
Today John and Paula farm with their two adult sons, Nathan and Clinton. Nathan and Clinton are the fourth generation on the farm. Nathan and his wife Megan have three daughters and Clinton and his wife Kameron have two children.
“There is nothing better than to get to work with your children and grandchildren. It makes it all worthwhile,” Paula said.
The Steels milk 140 cows in a double seven parlor. They farm 250 acres of cropland on which they grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and grass hay and some wheat for straw.
Paula is the primary milker seven days a week. Nathan is the herdsman and oversees the herd health, vet checks, and genetic work. Clinton handles the feeding, crop management and mechanical maintenance.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the improvements we’ve made in cow comfort,” said John. The Steels took out the rubber mats and went to deep bedded sand and have found they’ve improved production and cow health as a result from the cow bedding.
Community engagement is also important to the Steels. Every spring they enjoy making maple syrup and selling it locally. Nathan and Megan also recently ventured into a farm market business. They co-own Gooding’s Farm Market in Dover where they sell produce.
The Steel family were a top finalist for Maryland & Virginia’s Producer of the Year award in the Federal Order 1 & 33 category, a top honor given to members who not only achieve high quality milk, but who go above and beyond and demonstrate outstanding overall farm management, environmental sustainability and community engagement.
“Farmers need to be transparent so that people who are consuming our products learn about what we do and why we do it.” said John. “We would like consumers to know we produce one of nature’s most healthy products and that we do a good job. We are care takers of what we have been entrusted and we want to be good stewards,” he added.
Nine generations strong, the Dallam family owns and operates Broom’s Bloom Dairy in Harford County, Maryland. The farm, which dates back to the early 1700s, is named after a colonial land grant for the area and the original land owner, John Broom.
David and Kate took over the farm in 1997, milking 65 cows and making old-fashioned ice cream, farmstead cheeses and pork sausage. Over the years, the family business has grown to become an iconic ice cream shop in the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metro areas.
In addition to their delicious dips, the Dallam family is known for their array of locally produced farm products including meats, cheeses, bottled milk and breads as well as their very own assortment of fresh, all natural soups, stews and chowders.
The family-run business has been recognized nationally for their handmade, old-fashioned ice cream, earning top awards from the Washington/Baltimore Zagat Restaurant Guide as well as being ranked fifth in the nation according to Tripadvisor’s Top 10 Ice Cream Shops in the U.S.
The family also offers farm tours, seasonal happenings and live music events throughout the year.
For more information on Broom’s Bloom Dairy and their products, please visit www.bbdairy.com.
Brian and Rachel have been farming in partnership with Rachel’s parents, Joe and Veve McCutcheon, at Maple Kroft Farm since 2004. They milk 200 cows, raise 140 replacements and farm 180 acres on their Altoona, Pennsylvania farm. Brian and Rachel are blessed to have four sons, A.J., Aiden, Andrew and Abram.
On the farm, Brian wears many hats; he’s the herd manager, crop manager and employee manager, plus he milks and feeds the cows. Rachel also milks, and she handles the office side of the farm enterprise, from payroll and taxes to accounting and banking. The Detwilers are also active in the Blair County and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Grace Baptist Church of Tyrone.
Every year the Detwilers strive to connect with their local community, and show how dairy farmers work to provide a wholesome product. “We have church picnics at our farm and invite our sons’ football teams out for hayrides,” said Rachel. In the fall they open their farm gates to host 75 three-year-old preschoolers for a tour.
“Once you start opening your farm to the public, you end up building good relationships with non-ag people,” she said. “I’ve realized visitors are really excited about the farm and want to come back again, especially the kids,” Rachel added.
Brian and Rachel Detwiler are active in Maryland & Virginia’s leadership programs. Brian serves on Maryland & Virginia’s Leadership Council. And the Detwilers earned the Outstanding Young Cooperators title in 2018 where they represented Maryland & Virginia at national dairy meetings.
The Detwilers were also featured in a Lactaid Brand Product commercial. From mentioning their farm history to why they enjoy milking and caring for cows, the commercial emphasizes a farmer’s dedication to their farm and family. Visit Lactaid’s Facebook page to view the commercial.
In 1979 member John Mast, his wife Mahala and their six children moved to Crossville, Tennessee. They added three more children to the fold, and in 1985 they purchased a dairy that has grown to employ three families.
Son Tim has been involved on the farm since he was 11 years old and in 2014, John and Tim welcomed son-in-law Marc Miller to the operation. Marc brought a strong background in dairy production and a keen interest in bottling milk to the family business. The real hurdle they faced was how to make the business work. “It was either go all in, or add cows,” said Tim.
“We didn’t see an 80-cow dairy supporting three families. Instead of adding more cows and producing more milk, we decided to see if we could get more for the milk that we were already producing,” says Tim. “I always thought our area deserved to have a product like our milk that is produced locally,” says 75-year-old John. “More and more people want to know where their food comes from.”
The Masts set up a processing facility for their farm’s label, Sunrise Dairy, just a half mile down the road from their farm. Formerly an old country store and deli, the facility has been transformed into a farm store where the family sells whole, 2-percent, fat-free and flavored milk in addition to their own butter and meats. Sunrise Dairy now processes about 1,000 gallons each week, plus they run 150 gallons of ice cream mix when needed.
The family milks their 85 Holstein cows twice-a-day in a double-six herringbone parlor. Quality has always been a priority for the family, and they have earned nearly 18 years of annual quality awards from the cooperative.
With the bottling operation fully established, the family is looking to new opportunities including offering product in plastic pints and gallons. “We want to grow, but more importantly, we want to give back to the community and provide a local product that’s fresh from the farm and as close to natural as possible,” says Tim.
For more information about Sunrise Dairy and where to buy their products, please call 931-277-3777.
Brothers Eddie and Todd Hough are the fifth generation on their Charles Town, West Virginia farm. Since 1953 their dairy, Oakwood Farm LLC, has shipped milked milk to Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers. With the help of several employees, they milk 200 cows, raise 200 heifers, and farm about 1,600. Two of their employees, Calvin Sines and Wayne Hartly, have worked at Oakwood Farm for over twenty years.
“We have been farming our entire lives,” said Todd. “There hasn’t been a day that either Eddie or I haven’t worked with cows.”
The Houghs enjoy hosting tours on their farm including school groups and the West Virginia Farm Days. They have also been a tour stop as part of the Jefferson County Farm Day, a self- guided tour showcasing local, active farms. The brothers always welcome visitors to their farm and aim to keep an open-door policy to help educate people about milk and dairy farming.
Farm fresh milk makes fantastic ice cream. Stop by some of members’ farms who make ice cream as part of their dairying business. Patronizing local business is another way to help support our members. Don’t forget to follow and like them on their social pages too!