Dakin Dairy begins bottling its own milk

MYAKKA — In an effort to survive tough times, Dakin Dairy Farms has added a new plant and is now bottling some of its own milk, which has been snapped up for sale by a couple of retail giants, Whole Foods Market and Sweetbay Supermarkets.

Previously, all 50,000 gallons of the farm’s milk per week were shipped for processing in Miami, but now, 4,000 gallons a week will stay here to be sold under the Dakin brand, said Karen Dakin, who with her husband, Jerry, owns the farm at 30771 Betts Road, Myakka City.

“We’re so excited,” said she added. “Sweetbay will carry it in nine regional stores. It’s farm fresh milk, locally produced.”

Last fall, the environmentally-friendly farm introduced “agri-tourism,” providing educational and hands-on farm tours October through April; in its first season, it attracted 8,000 visitors.

The state-of-the-art farm uses manure, a by-product of its cows, layered with yard clippings, to make compost, which it then sells.

Future plans include production of drinkable yogurt, cheeses and other products.

It’s all part of an effort to financially thrive by diversifying at a time when farmers are struggling to stay afloat, said Dakin.

Three Dakin brothers own the last dairy farms in Manatee County, she said.

“Everybody either moved out or sold out, so we’re thinking, ‘How do we keep this farm going?’” she commented.

Sarasota’s Whole Foods Market, 1451 First St., is happy to help. It chose to add the all-natural Dakin product to its coolers because of the farm’s grass-fed cows produce milk with a clean, distinctive taste, said Nikki Heil, marketing director.

“It’s a huge bonus,” she said. “When we have tastings on the floor, people say they can really taste the difference; it’s creamy, clean and creamy.”

She added that the market for such products is “huge,” not to mention its appeal to customers who want to “buy local” to support their neighbors.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Heil said. “People want to have local products, they’re concerned about the environment — the less transportation needed, the less carbon footprint you’re having — and to keep resources in the community.”

“It was real excitng for us because we have a couple other local milks, but not in our backyard like they are. It’s another example of putting a face with a product, which our consumers really love.”

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 708-7908 or at skennedy@bradenton.com

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