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Early milk delivery in the Pine Hills

April 2, 2012

by Lauren Halligan

At 5 a.m. every Thursday, Meadow Brooks Dairy Farms co-owner Chuck VanWie can be found behind the wheel of his milk truck, making deliveries all over the Pine Hills neighborhood; a routine he says he’s been practicing his entire life.

Since 1926, Meadow Brook Farms Dairy of Clarksville has been producing and delivering glass-bottled fresh organic milk to the homes of local customers. After four generations in the family, not much has changed.

VanWie, a fourth generation milkman for Meadow Brook Farms, said the trucks go out four days a week, leaving around 4:30 a.m. A typical morning of deliveries includes more than 100 stops.

On the farm, the family milks about 200 cows, then processes and delivers that fresh milk. During the four days, neighborhoods throughout Albany get deliveries.

VanWie was quite serious when he said that children nowadays “think milk comes from the supermarket” – and have no idea but the complex milking process.

The company offers a selection of whole, two percent, or skim milk as well as half and half and heavy cream. However, it’s Meadow Brook Farms chocolate milk that seems to be the favorite among customers.

Milk bottles stacked in crates in back of truck. / Lauren Halligan

VanWie considers their chocolate milk to be the “best in the country.”  This opinion was confirmed by college student Sarah Agan when she said “It’s the best chocolate milk I ever had!”

About a year ago, one Pine Hills couple started ordering milk  from Meadow Brook Farms.  Kelly Doherty and her husband were curious about the doorstep boxes around the neighborhood and the milk truck they would see driving by. Thanks to their curiosity, the two are now happy customers of the VanWie family business.

As a health-conscious young couple, Doherty said “We like the fact that the milk does not contain antibiotics or hormones.” She also values organic products and supporting local merchants as reasons for choosing Meadow Brook Farms milk.

Doherty said that she finds the price to be comparable to organic store-bought milk at $3.25 per half gallon. They have a standing order for three each week.  “We use milk daily,” Doherty said.  The couple also enjoys the seasonal eggnog the company sells at Christmas.

Delivery is environmentally friendly, another draw for Doherty.

Milk box / Lauren Halligan

“The bottles are reused. We just put them back in the box and they are picked up when the milk is delivered.” According to VanWie the reusable glass bottles then go back to the farm, undergo sanitizing, are washed out and refilled, ready to be delivered once again.

Doherty makes her monthly payment the old-fashioned way: the milkman leaves a bill in the milk box and the next week she leaves a check for him to pick up when he comes around six in the morning.

Although they’re usually asleep when the milk is delivered, Doherty said that her husband is on a first name basis with the milkman; a personal aspect of having milk home delivered, and just another of the many perks.

Most of all “It’s … about the quality of the milk,” Doherty said. “Meadow Brook Farms definitely tastes better than the kind you buy in the store.”-30-

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