One Young Couple Starts Raw Milk Dairy Production in Connecticut
Baldwin Brook Farm fills niche market with raw milk dairy production and sales.
Mavis and Chris Newton left city living behind and moved back to Connecticut to operate a dairy farm licensed to sell raw milk.
A young couple with a strong work ethic, a dream, a sensible business plan and a desire to get back to their agricultural roots recently produced a new dairy farm licensed to begin raw milk dairy production, and sell raw milk in New England. Even with an often-saturated milk market, Mavis and Chris Newton have discovered a value-added niche market amongst the townships of eastern Connecticut, near Canterbury.
The Newtons moved to Rhode Island in 2003 when Chris took a job at the Veterans Hospital in Providence. The couple soon realized city living wasn’t for them and went looking for some country property where they might keep a cow and a few chickens, as well as grow a garden. In November of 2004, they found 75 bucolic acres nestled in the quiet woods near Canterbury, Connecticut. The picture-book farm had just what they were looking for: a beautiful home, a barn, large pastures and even a stream with a covered bridge over it.
One cow soon became two. Chris bought her from a nearby bed and breakfast, where the owners kept the cow for a pet. However, the owners found her to be too much to care for. It didn’t take long before a third cow was purchased, and Chris was milking all three by hand, twice a day.
At the same time, word was spreading that there was a new farm in town, and people began expressing an interest in purchasing raw milk from the Newtons.
Chris admits to a lifelong interest in knowing where his food comes from, staying fit and eating healthy. And since both he and Mavis grew up drinking raw milk, he’s quick to tout the pristine fluid’s benefits.
After moving to New England, he realized just how concerned people were about where their food was coming from and how and where it was being produced. The locals recognized how important small farms were to the local economy and that large-scale farming was difficult to make work in New England. People here wanted to see the land used for agriculture and were willing to support it by purchasing locally produced products.
With the Newtons realizing that there was a niche market literally knocking on their door, they set to work figuring out what they needed to do to expand the dairy beyond their three cows.
“As I became aware of (peoples’ interest), I started talking to other raw milk dairies in the state,” Chris says.
At first, the Newtons thought they might get by with building a small milk house in the old barn, with a concrete floor and a drain where they could filter and refrigerate the milk.
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