Our milkman's name was George J. Klamm. In the 1960’s, George delivered fresh, whole milk into an ice box that was built into my parents’ home porch in Syracuse, New York. George spent 55 years as a milkman. Once he retired, milkmen were a thing of the past. The local corner store became our primary source of milk, but it never replaced George. Fast forward to the present …
I’m glad to see that home milk deliveries are making a comeback, and grateful to Kilby Cream in Rising Sun, Maryland, co-owned by the Sensenig and Flahart families, for the opportunity to ride along on one of their home milk delivery routes last spring. For me, the experience brought nostalgia.
Before Dawn's Early Light
At 5 a.m., on a Wednesday morning, I met up with Gabbie Craig. She was already nearly done getting together the day’s home milk delivery orders. There’s a rhythmic rattle to the glass-bottled milk as it is moved by the crateful from the loading dock to the truck. Gabbie is one of three delivery drivers and the modern-day milkman, rather woman, for Kilby Cream. She’s been delivering milk for more than two years.
Farm Fresh Milk
Customers place their online order for half-gallon and quart-sized bottled milk in whole, 2%, skim, cream line, and chocolate and strawberry. Half and half and heavy cream are available in quart size only. The milk is processed and bottled on-site at Kilby Cream’s processing plant. Fresh from the farm, 24- to 48-hours later. the milk is delivered to customers.
The most efficient delivery route is calculated, and Office Manager Tracy Martin takes last minute delivery orders, adjusts routes, manages changes to existing orders, and communicates special delivery instructions to drivers.
On the Road
Wednesday is Gabbie’s Harford/Baltimore/York County route, with 62 deliveries to be made before noon. Most of the customers greet Gabbie with a smile and a quick ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’. They’re in a rush either to work or getting their children off to school. Others she’s never seen. Still others welcome conversation. “I do have a lot customers ask me about where milk comes from, if it’s organic, or what our cows are fed. They ask about lactose-free milk and how it’s made. They want to know how the cows are cared for or, in general, are curious about dairy farming,” said Gabbie.
Milk tastes best at 35-degree Fahrenheit. To keep it cold, customers are either on-hand to accept delivery or required to put out a cooler with ice packs. A few customers keep a spare refrigerator in the garage for their milk deliveries.
Paying on Principle
Having milk delivered farm to doorstep is expensive compared to getting it at the local grocery store. In addition to the cost of the actual milk, tack on a $4 delivery fee, plus a $2 refundable deposit per glass bottle. For some, it’s the price of convenience. For others, says Kilby Cream co-owner, Andrea Sensenig, “they’re willing to pay it because they agree with what we’re trying to do – with our farming practices using no-till, being good stewards on the farm and in the community, and by using glass recyclable bottles instead of plastic."
"There are so many dairy farmers that don't get to sell direct to the consumer but they put pride in their product and their passion for their product is no different than ours, and I hope that's something that resonates with consumers through our home milk delivery business." ~ Andrea Sensenig
100 miles… 7 hours… and about 40,000 Fit Bit steps later, the deliveries are done and my ride along ends. Since then, I've discovered more farms offering home milk delivery. If you're in range, take a look and consider if the service is right for you.
Meadow Brook Farms Dairy - Albany/Troy/Saratoga
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.