Curtiss Family Hopes to Make More Products from their Raw Milk
BALLSTON SPA – The Willow Marsh Dairy Farm in Ballston Spa has been selling raw cow’s milk from generation to generation; and with the enthusiasm for raw milk gaining ground, it’s only fitting the business is looking to expand operations by building a creamery.
Owned by the Curtiss family, the 234-acre farm sells a variety of dairy products at their farm store located at 343 Hop City Road. While they’re famous for their raw milk, Willow Marsh is one of the only farms in New York State licensed to sell it.
“It took us five years to get certified to sell raw milk because you have to pass various inspections to make sure our milk and our barns are up to standard,” said Kayla Curtiss, employee and fundraising coordinator at Willow Marsh. “
The family also makes small batches of cheese and yogurt from their sweet, cream-on-top, raw milk, but they don’t want to stop there; they say they’d like to create more dairy products from their infamous raw milk.
“We want to make more things out of it like ice cream and butter and we want to be able to sell our cream and chocolate milk,” said Kayla.
The Curtiss family says the demand for fresh and local products is growing at a rate they can’t keep up with – they need a creamery to help them manufacture at capacity. So the Curtiss family turned to Crowd Rise, a fundraising website, to help them reach their $500,000 goal.
“As of now, we’re making the cheese and yogurt off-site, which is a huge time consumption,” said Chuck Curtiss, owner of Willow Marsh. “Putting the creamery together here would make it much more efficient and really streamline the whole operation. There are so many different dairy products we could be making, and it’s frustrating right now because we can’t do it.”
Not only is the Curtiss family setting out to fundraise for their creamery dreams, they’re also looking to educate dairy lovers about raw milk. The health virtues of raw milk are constantly pitted against the concerns over dangerous bacterial pathogens. Studies show nine million Americans, roughly three percent of the population, drink raw milk on a regular basis – either from cow, sheep or goat. Raw milk is said to improve the immune system and prevent asthma with its powerful enzymes, antibodies, and flora of bacteria. Raw-milk enthusiasts say this unpasteurized, un-homogenized milk, straight-from-the-cow’s udders, poses very little health risk when it comes from a clean dairy farm with periodic bacterial testing. The Curtiss family says their farm is tested twice monthly and consistently passes health inspections.
“We monitor every cow very closely, every day, every milking. It’s very important. The cows have to be cleaned and they have to have their udders checked every milking, etc. There’s a lot to it and we take it very seriously,” said Chuck. “Raw milk…it comes straight out of the cow and that’s what makes it sell so well, because it tastes exceptionally good. If you keep your raw product in a higher standard than what the end product of pasteurization would be, you’re better off…but it takes a lot of work and there’s a lot of focus to it.”
The 30 milking cows on Willow Marsh Farm are milked twice daily – once at 6 a.m. and again at 6 p.m.; providing the milk, cheese and yogurts the Curtiss family love to sell and many customers love to buy.
“There are people who come from hours away and buy 12 gallons at a time to take home,” said Kayla.
“Seeing how widely, positively accepted all of the products are…there’s no question the products will sell as fast as we can make it,” added Chuck.
The Willow Marsh Farm store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The store is closed on Tuesday. For more information and to donate, visit willowmarshfarm.com.