It’s amazing that the sustainability bug has hit a majority of the partners that service our locations. Wawa for instance has essentially eliminated their trash bill by instituting a recycling program. In 2011 they paid $5000 to remove their trash removal and they got paid $4500 for their recycled material. The once thrown away plastic wrap and boxes is now making money for them.
Mike DiNardo, our sales representative and Kevin Peter, the plant manager for Wawa greeted us as we arrived at the dairy. I had 9 others join me on this tour and they were management from our Parkhurst Dining and Cura Hospitality divisions.
The tour went through the process of the milk arriving to the dairy in the raw state, pasteurization, homogenization, packaging and shipping. I’ve been to many fluid milk dairies, so the highlight of this tour was their massive cooler. Wawa has 6 story cooler that loaded and unloaded by a robot that moves up and down the aisles and palletizes each customers orders. The picture to the right doesn’t do it justice, but trust me, it was really cool.
In 2006, Wawa Dairy decided to start promoting their milk as rBST free (rBST is a hormone that is injected into the cow at the farmer level to increase the production of milk.) This is usually a difficult transition for a dairy, but for them it was quite simple. The majority (90%) of Wawa’s Dairy producers are Amish and they have never used the hormone so it made it quite easy.
After we completed the tour of the dairy we went to one of the farms that provide them milk. The dairy farm that we visited is called Walmoore farm in West Grove, PA. This farm is a century farm, which means that’s been operating as a farm for over 100 years. We were greeted by Ellen and Walt a husband and wife team that employ 11 full time and 2 part time employees to milk their 820 Holstein cows.
This is the largest and most progressive dairy farm that I’ve ever visited. They farm 1250 acres of land, which consisted of the following acres of each 755 in corn, 430 in alfalfa, 11 in wheat and 60 in grass. These crops are used as the feed stock for their cows. Each cow is feed a minimum of once per day and the specific cows that are being milked will be fed twice per day.
These cows generate 10 million gallons of manure a year and the Walmoore’s have figured out a pretty cool manure management program in place. The cows are bedded with sand instead of hay. They do this so they can recycle the sand again and again. So they first separate the sand from the manure, then they separate the manure solids from the liquids using a manure separator. The solids are stored on a stocking pad and the liquids are pumped to a lined lagoon and then the liquids are used as fertilizer for the fields. This process has almost eliminated their need to purchase commercial fertilizers.
The Walmoore’s milk 75% of their cows 3 times a day and the remaining cows twice per day. The average cow in their herd produces 90 lbs or 10.5 gallons of milk a day and some of their cows produce 10 gallons per day. Last year the Waltmoore farm produced over 23 millions lbs of milk.
I’m always impressed when I go out to a farm and witness the sustainability efforts that are in place. The Walmoore’s and many other farms are ahead of the rest of us, because they know that sustainability will better their operation in the long run. Either through reducing, recycling or reusing these farmers know and realize its good for their business as well as for the environment.
Until next time,