Our dream was to “just farm” to support and raise our growing family. Little did we know how challenging this would be, and we realized we needed to move beyond sheep and pigs to a more stable revenue stream—and decided dairy cows might be the ticket.
Except, we’d never milked cows before, leading to an entirely new definition of “on the job training”. With a lot of help from neighbors, we got the hang of milking, while Tim still held his full-time corporate job. The first few years, we followed conventional wisdom and fed our cows grain with some seasonal grazing, a standard combination of small dairy farms in New York state.
We transitioned our farm to certified organic practices, believing them to be in line with our own values about food production. But we found that it was impossible to buy organic feed grain, milk our cows, and have enough money to cover our basic needs. We decided to move away from dependence on grain feeding, and our cows’ health improved drastically as they moved to a 100% grass-based diet.
We created the recipe for hallmark tart and tangy creamline yogurt from our cows’ milk for our kids on our stovetop. We founded Maple Hill and opened a small retail storefront in Little Falls, NY, milking cows by day, and making yogurt by hand. Our yogurt gained a loyal following, especially at farmers’ markets in Manhattan.
Two other 100% grass-fed dairy farmers take a huge leap of faith and join us— the VanAmburgs of Dharma Lea, and the Kings of Hidden Camp Farm. With the extra milk supply, we are able to increase our production and increase our distribution across the Northeast in natural food and specialty stores.
As other farms came on board, we outgrew our location in Little Falls, and make the difficult decision to sell our cows and farm, and focus on growing the Maple Hill brand and Milkshed, purchasing a dedicated dairy production facility in the Hudson Valley in Stuvyesant, NY.
Buoyed by efforts of new sales staff, we expand our distribution to the West Coast and all 50 states, and begin refining our branding and consumer-facing education on all things grass-fed, as well as supporting trade marketing efforts.
We launched our Drinkable Yogurt, and in September announce our designation as the first third-party 100% grass-fed dairy brand via PCO’s 100% Grass-fed certification. More and more farms join our Milkshed, drawn by both our high pay price and our commitment to the 100% grass-fed vision.
We launch our Whole Milk Greek Yogurt, which quickly becomes our fastest-growing product, winning several awards. Through a collaboration with Grafton Village Cheese, we start selling Raw Milk Cheeses in three varieties.
Now over 100 farms strong, we reveal our rebrand, which highlights our 100% grass-fed organic message, creating a more polished aesthetic that matches the quality of the yogurt inside the cup.