Ronnybrook Farm Dairy: the name Ronnybrook is eponymous with fresh, small batch, local milk, both in the New York region and throughout the country.
Their name precedes them, as even before I moved to New York, I had read of Ronnybrook products in various food articles and books. Encompassing 650 acres of beautiful Hudson Valleyland, Ronnybrook has served as a family dairy farm since 1941, first as a local co-op, and since 1991 as a direct-seller operation under the management of Ronny Osofsky and his brothers.
In the nearly 20 years since the farm’s transformation, Ronnybrook has steadily expanded their Greenmarket locations and grown their now large network of shops, restaurants, and cafes to which they source their dairy products. Throughout their growth, the Osofsky family has maintained a clear and consistent set of practices for animal welfare and product quality.
Ronnybrook Farm Dairy also serves as a mentor for other local dairies seeking advice and guidance about best practices and navigating the market. In fact, several other local dairies, such as Milk Thistle and Hudson Valley Fresh, have used Ronnybrook’s facilities to bottle their own milk.
In an effort to learn more about such an inspiring farm, I recently drove up to bucolic Ancramdale, NY to visit with Ronny Osofsky and his Operations Management intern, Amanda Trzcinski.
Ronny, Amanda, and the other workers whom I met graciously led me around the farm, demonstrating their wit, charm, and surprisingly laid-back personalities. In addition to my nearly 3 hour tour and conversation, Amanda drove me to a hilltop meadow for a distant view of the farm and surrounding mountains.
Life at Ronnybrook is busy and constantly evolving. Creativity and flexibility are a must!
During my tour and interview, both Ronny and Amanda alternated between dealing with other workers, delivery logistics, and distribution questions. I toured a large yogurt bottling facility addition that has been five years in the making (they’re nearly done now). Ronnybrook is exploring the idea of sourcing to grocery stores outside of New York, but their facility has to expand even further to handle that kind of volume.
Ronny shared that most of their equipment is purchased used and then reconditioned, a process that is both time consuming and tedious.
Ronnybrook is experimenting with products that they carry at their own Farm Store: they currently sell a variety of milk bottles, bottle holders, t-shirts, keychains, and even onesies. In addition, Ronny might add vegetables and meat from several of their neighboring farms.
Amanda, the operations intern, has been at Ronnybrook for about 9 months, having majored in Animal Science and Agribusiness at Cornell. She grew up on a dairy farm in New York, but hasn’t been able to find time to go home yet to help out on her family’s farm because of the constant level of activity at Ronnybrook.
In 2008, Ronnybrook was awarded an energy efficiency grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ronnybrook used this money for a solar water heating system to preheat water for processing milk.
Coming up next
Learn about Ronnybrook’s take on ‘organic’ and how much milk comes from their highest producing cow each day (hint: over 100 pounds!)
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