This 76-year-old Hamilton dairy farm is 'moo'-ving into the future by bringing back milk delivery
Farmer says delivery service, storefront are ways to adapt to growing rural community
The Loewith family has owned a dairy farm in Hamilton's Copetown neighbourhood for almost 80 years, but now they are stepping into the future by revisiting the past with a milk delivery service.
"We thought this would be a great way to grow the business," said Jennifer Howe, 48.
Her husband, Ben Loewith, 48, is the third generation of his family to run Summit Station Dairy & Creamery. He co-owns the farm with his father Carl Loewith, 76, and uncle Dave Loewith, 71.
Summit Station Dairy's delivery service, which is aimed to start Thanksgiving weekend, will deliver whole milk, chocolate milk and cheddar cheese curds to one neighbourhood a day in the Dundas, Flamborough area, with plans to expand to all of Hamilton in the future.
The family is also opening a storefront, public tours of the farm and coffee spot, Howe said.
The changing business, Dave said, shows how the family farm is adapting to changes to the Greenbelt and a growing number of non-farmers taking up rural life.
"As you get more people living in what was (the) Greenbelt, there's more of these farmer-urban people interactions," he said.
"[People] buy houses thinking they're going to live in this idyllic, quiet, countryside and it's not always the case if you're next to a very big, active farm."
Summit Station Dairy milks around 480 dairy cows, according to Howe, and produces around 20,000 litres of milk a day —most of which is picked up by Dairy Farmers of Ontario, to be put on store shelves under brands like Hewitt and Beatrice.
"Having neighbours that aren't necessarily farmers, who don't like all of the smells and sights that go with modern day agriculture, it's very hard to grow any bigger on the farm," she said, adding that branching into making their own products is a new way to expand.
Dairy farm takes name from long-gone railway line
Ben's grandfather Joe Loewith bought the farm in 1947, Howe said, when he immigrated to Canada from what is now the Czech Republic.
"[The station] was called Summit because it was the highest point between Brantford and Hamilton, so the train had to come up to Summit and then down into the downtown area," Howe said.
Joe named the farm Summit Home Holsteins, she said. Holsteins is the type of dairy cow the family keeps.
For the family's new venture, they wanted to choose a name that would be easy to remember, Howe said.
"We thought, 'Well, why don't we name it Summit Station after the little train stop? And then we could make it look like a little train station,'" she said.
Farming family wants to reduce emissions, go local
Dave says his family never ran a milk delivery service on their own, but they used to supply milk to Royal Oak Dairy which delivered in Hamilton.
"[Milk delivery] hasn't happened in Hamilton for a long, long time," he said.
Dave says the farm, along with dairy producers across the province, have a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 and selling locally is a piece of that puzzle.
"Our milk is produced in a barn that's 200 meters from where the processing plant is and we're delivering milk in a 30 minute radius," he said.
Howe says Carl and Dave, who have retired from milking cows, will be able to meet more with the public and get closer with the neighbours.
"They have this whole new chapter in their career where they're going to be at Summit Station talking to people. They're proud of what the farm has become," she said.