We all know milk does the body good, but who knew the affect it could have on a community. John-Paul and Jennifer Robinson know first hand how fresh, local dairy can connect neighbors and spark a desire for the basics – milk straight from the cow. Three years ago they started the “Happy Cow Co-Op,” in an effort to bring fresh dairy products home. What began with a handful of folks, now boasts a membership of more than thirty Birmingham families.
With the help of the Robinsons each of these families receive local goods including milk, cheese, eggs, jellies, and more from Wright Dairy farm in Alexandria, Alabama. Here is how it works: each family places an order every two weeks; members of the co-op alternate making trips to Alexandria to pick up the order and brings it back to the Robinson’s home for distribution. There are no fees required, just a commitment to make a trip to the farm every once and a while. It’s a pretty simple concept, with endless benefits according to this local Crestwood couple. “Being able to actually see the dairy farmer and know your source is empowering… we love it because we get everything fresh, but it also builds a sense of community with your neighbors.”
Two Saturdays a month there is constant traffic in the Robinson’s home as neighbors and friends come by to pick up their orders. Some pull up a chair, hang out in the kitchen, and chat a while – making this run for milk way more fun than your usual trip to the market. Plus there is the comfort of knowing everything is fresh and local. The milk at Wright Dairy farm is pasteurized, but not homogenized and is never more than two days out of the cow. “It’s eye-opening to understand the organic milk industry – it’s not about the well-being of the animal as much as it is about the organic label applied at the end,” shares John-Paul. Being able to support a dairy farm that is actually committed to protecting the health and well being of their cows and the community is something the Robinsons value.
Ready to start your own Co-Op? Check out John Paul and Jennifer’s tips to make it happen:
1. The effort is minimal: all it takes are a few families who are willing to take turns transporting the orders
2. Get organized: send an email to take orders; a spreadsheet can be handy to keep track of each order
3. Consistency: Create a schedule for pick-up days each month and decide which days members in the co-op will be responsible for picking up the orders
4. Plan for space: Remember that your co-op shouldn’t be so large that you need more than one vehicle to transport orders.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know about your new co-op and we will post your group on our site so other folks in your area can connect and join.