Maple View Dairy: Building Trust in Local Production
When we reported on Ben and Jerry's teaming up with Ecotricity to combat global warming, one irate commenter informed us that it was 'total rubbish' due to the environmental impacts of the dairy industry . While we agree that over consumption of animal products, be they meat or dairy, are a huge threat to the planet, we find it hard to see the whole world turning vegan in a hurry. It is in this spirit then that we are posting on Maple View Farm, a dairy producer in Hillsborough, North Carolina that is loved by the local community, not only for their delicious locally-sold ice cream, dairy products and meat, but also for their responsible attitude to environmental stewardship.
Maple View is staunchly and proudly synthetic hormone free, and while some products now come in recyclable plastic containers, the dairy is still aggressive in promoting the use of old-style returnable milk bottles. This is something which is supported strongly by the local community. In fact, according to a recent article in local Chapel Hill Magazine, when the local retail giant Food Lion muscled the dairy's products off the shelves, sales of Maple View barely dipped as customers just went elsewhere for their favorite milk. When Food Lion changed their mind, and asked Maple View to return, the company declined, stating that they 'didn't want to continue a business relationship with somebody who would do that.'
The magazine interview (unfortunately unavailable online) also points out another important factor in the benefits of the local economy, namely trust. When the dairy found out last year that their cows had eaten feed contaminated with the carcinogen aflatoxin, they were forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk in a week. Muffin Brosig, a spokesperson for the farm, attributes the farm's handling of this crisis to local support and loyalty:
"We overcame that crisis due to the support of the community. I think it's a matter of the community trusting us. We probably even picked up a few customers in the process."
Without doubt, part of this loyalty comes from the transparent nature of the farm's operations. They are careful to provide plenty of detail about all aspects of the business, and the farm's website serves as an educational interface on land management, crops and animal husbandry practices.
Of course, the deliciousness of the ice cream may also have something to do with their success