LUNENBURG — When it comes to the dairy business, family-owned Stillman Dairy Farm knows how to keep it simple.
“The cows eat, we milk them, bottle the milk, and sell,” said third-generation farmer Garrett Stillman, who calls himself the “milk guy” for overseeing processing and bottling.
The farm may be small, he said, but what sets Stillmans apart from other farms is their in-house operations.
While others sell their milk to big companies to process, package, and distribute, Stillman said the family does all of it on their 300 acres of land with about 35 cows.
“We’re a small family farm and have enough to manage,” Stillman said. “We do what works for us, and it does keep us busy.”
Stillman’s father, Garth, is the cow, barn, and production expert. Stillman’s brother, Griffin, sells and delivers. His sister, Elizabeth, is a trained pastry chef who bakes for the farm’s store. His mother, Colleen, helps run the store.
Selling directly cuts out the middleman and lets the farm control its own prices, Stillman said.
Quarts of plain or flavored milk cost less than $3 a quart and pints are $1.60.
Beyond milk, the farm offers dairy products including butter, cream, and occasionally beef.
Butter made at the farm is used in the baked goods, which include cupcakes, brownies, and cookies shaped like cows.
The farm also sells local products from other farms, like eggs from Brookside Farm in Townsend, cheese from Smith’s Country Cheese in Winchendon, and coffee from Smokestack Roasters in Lunenburg.
Processing the milk is an all-day endeavor that produces 500 to 600 quarts in a day, Stillman said. The process happens a few times a week.
Behind the farm store is a room with machinery to process and bottle the milk.
Raw milk starts in a holding tank and is pumped into a machine that separates the heavy cream from the milk. From there it goes through metal plates that are heated and then cooled to pasteurize the milk, which kills bacteria and pathogens.
Some fat is added back into the milk depending on the type. A homoginizer breaks up the fat and makes sure that it is uniform when it mixes with the milk.
The finished milk goes from another holding tank into a rotary to fill glass or plastic bottles. Bottles go straight into a walk-in cooler and are ready to sell.
Some glass bottles have the family’s name on them, which the farm is looking to get more of, Stillman said. People like the glass bottles because of the way they look, or for nostalgia, he added.
Customers come from Lunenburg and surrounding communities, Stillman said. The farm also gets a good amount of New Hampshire residents and people from the Boston area.
He said some people are drawn to the farm because they like the way the milk tastes, interest in local food, and clean eating.
“It’s something different that we have to offer here,” Stillman said.
For those who can’t make it in person, the farm offers milk delivery.
The dairy’s green and white delivery truck can be seen around town a few times a week bringing milk to about 25 customers.
Previously the farm delivered milk to up to 150 people in surrounding towns. Stillman said they are looking to ramp up deliveries.
The Stillmans are looking for ways to encourage people to visit by hosting more events.
Four years ago, the farm began hosting its annual country fair in the fall. The food, music, and games have drawn a crowd of a few thousand, Stillman said.
The next fair is on Sept. 8 and proceeds will benefit the farm, the Lunenburg Wellness Advisory, and the town’s 4-H club.
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