Oregon Dairy Organics

Oregon Dairy has implemented 2 ways of using organic products to support sustainable farming and give the public high quality products.

By Kevin Perreault

Photo by Kevin Perreault

OD timeline: Timeline created by Kevin Perreault, shows the history of Oregon Dairy’s supermarket and restaurant.  Information from the Oregon Dairy website.

Oregon Dairy in Lititz Pennsylvania has been known for their sustainability methods for over 30 years. They have been using a methane digester to produce electricity for their farm and surrounding homes on the farm. There are solar panels on the roof of the supermarket and restaurant to produce renewable electricity throughout the store and restaurant. Also, they have been recycling vegetable oil, cardboard and plastic bags for the past several years. Since then, they have added two new ways of using organic methods as a means of providing a healthier earth and higher quality products to their customers.

CSA Drop-off

Oregon Dairy is one of 16 drop-off locations for community supported agriculture or CSA for the winter of 2018. The CSA is a nationally based foundation to have people get the best quality organic products. The CSA is made up of farmers who will grow organic produce and have them delivered to the certain drop-off stations once harvest is done. They also sell other products than produce.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Product Options
Department Products They sell
Dairy ·         Low fat Plain Yogurt

·         Organic Butter

Gifts ·         Organic Produce Share

·         Holiday Cheese Plate

·         Herbal Note Cards

Health & Beauty ·         Hot Breath Fire Cider

·         Sun Shield

·         Healing Salve

Herbal Tea ·         Lemon Grass
Meat &Poultry ·         Bone-in Smoked Ham

·         Boneless Pork Chops

·         Ground Beef

Merch ·         T-shirts

·         Hoodies

·         Jackets

Pantry ·         Maple Syrup

·         Raw Honey

·         Maple Sugar

Produce ·         Organic Carrots

·         Organic Butternut Squash

·         Organic Sweet Onions

Table Created by Kevin Perreault, Information from Lancaster Farm Fresh Website

In order to receive these boxes, you must go to the Lancaster Farm Fresh website and sign up to register. From there you order your products and pick your destination drop-off area and pay. Prices will vary between location and how much one orders. There are small, medium and large orders and pick up times range from every week, to every two weeks or once a month. For example, a medium box of the 2018 winter organic produce share for Lancaster is $370 for the 14 weeks that the season is taking place.  That means a customer will get 6-8 vegetables and fruits of their choosing each week for 14 weeks. Jim Hensel, a produce manager at Oregon Dairy, says they approached Lancaster Farm Fresh to be a drop-off location because it will expand their organic offerings.

Photo by Kevin Perreault. CSA boxes ready to be picked up be their customer

Organic Farm

Just like the CSA giving consumers high quality products, especially in the organic produce selection, Oregon Dairy is just in the starting stages of making their own organic growing farm. It started last spring when Oregon Dairy hired a couple to make organic produce at a farm in between the supermarket and Landis Homes Retirement Community. According to Hensel, the farm has made tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green and fall squashes and more.

Photo by Kevin Perreault. Organic sweet and russet potatoes from Oregon Dairy’s new organic grown farm sold in the supermarket

Even though the farm is in its beginning stages, Hensel believes Oregon Dairy will be able to produce a lot more quantity organic produce in the coming year with better quality. Hensel said, “This winter, we are going to be putting up at least one green house and two high tunnels”. The two high tunnels will be able to allow Oregon Dairy to produce better quality tomatoes. Although, according to the USDA website, in order to be qualified as organic, the farm must not use the land for original or non-organic produce for three years and must be inspected by a USDA agent every year to meet specific guidelines to remain organic. Oregon Dairy puts stickers on their organic produce that says they are chemical free which is fine, however, they can’t say they’re organic just yet. They have also been in the idea stage of using aquaponics which according to Hensel “is a sustainable system of using the waste water of fish which is full of nitrogen and using it to fuel or give nourishment to plants and would be able to produce a high quality of leafy green spring mix”.

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Riparian Zone unique feature

Photo Credit: Kevin Perreault,. The riparian zone stretches across the entire stream on Oregon Dairy’s property as the covered bridge helps symbolize the connection between the farm and the restaurant.

Oregon Dairy has a riparian zone on the stream that runs through its farm. The riparian zone helps avoid erosion and is aligned with tall grass that they cut only once a year and also is home to many critters. There are also some unique trees, called pawpaw trees that grow around this riparian zone. Pawpaws are a green tropical fruit that grow on trees and some were found here at Oregon Dairy. There are several locations where you can find these pawpaw trees in Lancaster County, but for the most part, most people haven’t heard or seen this fruit. They have a good taste and although they can be hard to find, Jim Hensel said they do not sell pawpaws at the store because the shelf life is only a couple of days, so it would be hard to sell them at its best quality.

Oregon Dairy’s Got Milk

It would make sense that a supermarket that has its own dairy farm would have milk. But the way it is made makes it more interesting. According to the Oregon Dairy website, The methane digester that powers the machine to obtain the milk from the cows can help the operator get 100 cows milked in one hour. The milk gets cooled down from 101֯F to 38֯F and is then stored. On a typical day, Oregon Dairy makes around 4,000 gallons of milk a day from their 500 cows on their farm. There are no added chemicals when it comes to the cows or the milk when it is produced, and the store sells white milk and chocolate milk by the pint, quart, half gallon and gallon.

Oregon Dairy

Oregon Dairy’s value that they stand by is “creating an extraordinary experience”, and they have been trying to do their best at that since 1974. What used to be just a dairy store that sold produce, eggs and milk, has now become a supermarket and restaurant that serves 2,000-3,000 people a day collectively. They want to be known as having the highest quality products and have won awards in their bakery department for having the best birthday and wedding cakes in Lancaster County. They have plenty of events that go on throughout the year and is all about bringing people together.

Lancaster Farm Fresh

The Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative or LFFC is a non profit based organization that wants to provide customers with the best organic products. They want people to know that they use the freshest products and do no harm to the land or anything else in the process of making their products. A customer would pre-pay their order so that way the farmers would have a chance and buy the products needed for production. Since Lancaster is known for its good soil, LFFC wants to share their products with the people so they can appreciate and support sustainable farming. All of their products are certified organic and chemical free and the animals they sell come from small farms who were free to roam the land so people know the animals were treated responsibly and with good care.