Milking the Dairy Farm for Everything It’s Got

Milking their dairy farms for more than just milk has helped Chester County’s Milky Way Farm, shown here, and Baily’s Dairy stay alive to work another day. Image via Jessica Griffin, Philadelphia Inquirer.

While most dairy farms were poured down the drain at the depths of the farm crisis in 1986, a few milked their land for everything it was worth and survived to work another day.

For the Milky Way Farm in Chester Springs, the land yielded pumpkins, hayrides, and farm tours. For Baily’s Dairy at West Chester’s Pocopson Meadow Farm more recently, the farm produced direct-to-consumer milk, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report by Dan Geringer.

What seemed absolutely crazy at the time drew 1,500 people to Milky Way Farm the very first weekend its pumpkins were ripe for picking.

“We took in more in four October weekends than we did selling milk for a year,” said Sam Matthews. “It was a blessed thing. We now sell 20,000 pick-your-own pumpkins.”

And there’s no more threat to the dairy farm’s future. In 1997, Matthews and his wife sold a preservation easement to the Chester County Agricultural Land Preservation Board to forever protect its 103 acres.

For the Bailys, a big bet on their own processing plant kept the milk flowing directly to local homes, markets, restaurants, and shops.

And flowing through family members’ veins.

“Once you grow up with dairy farming, having a reason to get up at 4 o’clock every morning, having something to care for every day, it’s in your blood,” said Meredith Baily.

Read more about the survival of Chester County’s dairy farms in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

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