Jeanne Sager | Democrat
RICH DIRIE OF Youngsville gets ready to milk one of his cows. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets gave the farm permission to sell raw milk.
Raw milk now available in your backyard
By Jeanne Sager
YOUNGSVILLE His entire life, Rich Dirie has been drinking milk straight from the barn.
No pasteurization or homogenization required.
So when it came time to get creative to keep his family’s farm alive, Dirie went back to basics.
He contacted the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to find out what it would take to sell the raw milk he drinks to the general public.
Was there a market? He thought so, but he wasn’t sure. He figured with the emphasis on getting to know your farmer, it was worth a shot.
Once Ag and Markets gave the OK, Rich and Maryann Dirie’s son threw together a rough sign and planted it on the roadside.
They were in business.
That was about a month ago, and since then the customers have come.
They’ve called to tell the Diries how excited they were to find the real deal right here in Sullivan County. One woman has been paying $40 to have raw milk shipped to her door from California.
She knew where the Dirie farm was not far from her mechanic in Youngsville. Yes, she would make the drive.
And so it’s been.
Some of the Dirie’s egg customers have expanded to buying milk straight from the farm too.
More have taken note of the sign and turned into the drive.
“Most of them are really enthusiastic about it,” said Maryann.
They tell the Diries they’re happy to find a fresh product. They’re looking forward to making their own cheese and yogurt.
The taste, of course, is out of this world.
Until you drink it, though, it’s hard to describe.
“My son says it’s like drinking a fresh, open bottle of soda compared to drinking a flat old bottle of soda,” Rich explained.
It’s healthy too, packed with calcium and good fats.
Most of all, it’s natural.
“It’s milk as it comes from the cow,” Rich said.
And it’s milk you can buy from a farmer you stand face-to-face with, at a barn that stands out for its cleanliness (walk in the door, and you’ll notice bottles of bleach the Diries pride themselves on keeping the place as clean as can be, considering it is a barn).
“We’ve always tried to do a good job with milk quality,” Rich said. Their awards from Dairylea prove they’ve succeeded. So does the distinction from Ag and Markets - the state feels the Diries’ operation is up to the raw milk task, a marker for customers to feel safe too.
“At least here, you know what you’re getting, at least they can locate where their food is coming from,” Maryann said. “These days, even milk is being imported.”
Not the raw milk at the Dirie’s. Under New York State Ag and Markets law, they have to sell straight from the farm in Youngsville. Customers have to make the drive, and the Diries have set up twice weekly pick-up days to make it happen.
At 58, Dirie has been farming all his life. It was his parents farm, which he and Maryann worked on together after they were married. They took over the farm completely in 1990.
There is nothing either of them would prefer to do. They’d like to hand over the farm to their two sons one day.
But something had to change.
“Inflation drives expenses up, but the milk price that we’re getting is the same price we were getting when we started,” Rich explained. “We have to somehow bring more in.”
“All the farmers are having that problem,” Maryann added. “They’re not coming up with solutions for us.”
This is the Diries’ solution.
Whether it will work is up to the customers. In the first month of operation, they sold 60 gallons of raw milk to customers, solely on word of mouth and the rough sign thrown up by their son at the end of the drive.
This month, the number is climbing.
“I’m 58,” Rich said. “What else do I go and do now? I’ve got two sons who, if nothing else, would like the land . . .”
If it’s raw milk that will keep this farm alive for another generation, then it’s raw milk the Diries will sell by the gallon out of their milkhouse.
Stop by Wednesday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the farm at 1345 Shandelee Road to pick up a gallon of fresh milk, or give the Diries a call at 482-4301 to set up another pick-up time.