Franchot visits creamery in Federalsburg
FEDERALSBURG — Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Nice Farms Creamery on Monday, July 17, to present its owners with the Bright Lights Award.
The new award, recognizing and celebrating innovation in the private and nonprofit sectors that strengthen Maryland’s economy, generate jobs and tax revenue and develop new ideas, will be presented over the course of the year to one recipient in each of Maryland’s 23 counties and in Baltimore City.
Nice Farms Creamery, a 201-acre dairy farm on Auction Road outside Federalsburg, was chosen as this year’s Caroline County winner.
“My hat is off to all involved,” Franchot said, presenting one of his comptroller’s coins to owner Bob Miller. “With hard work and risk, you’re doing something special.”
The family-owned and -operated creamery was founded in 2009, but the dairy farm has been in the family since 1989, when Miller’s parents, already dairy farmers in New Jersey, moved to the Eastern Shore to start a grazing operation.
Today, the creamer y produces high-quality milk, ice cream, butter and yogurt with the milk from its herd of exclusively grass-fed cows, which it sells directly to customers at the farm and at multiple area farmers’ markets, and through small local stores.
Since 2010, the creamery has supplied whole and skim milk to Salisbury-based Rise Up Coffee to use at its shops in Salisbury, St. Michaels and Easton. During the holiday season, the coffee shops also sell egg nog produced by Nice Farms.
Franchot specifically recognized that partnership with Rise Up Coffee.
“We need more farms like this, coming up with innovative partnerships,” Franchot said.
The Bright Lights Award recognizes risk-taking in the private sector, Franchot said.
“There are tens of thousands of entrepreneurs just like Bob across the state, with all kinds of great ideas,” Franchot said. “Congrats on taking the risk, and all the rewards from your hours of hard work.”
Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder said the dairy industry as a whole is struggling, not just in Maryland, but nationwide.
“The old way of doing it just isn’t doing it,” Bartenfelder said.
Bartenfelder said Nice Farms Creamery was the first official farm to register in the Maryland’s Best Homegrown by Heroes program, recognizing military veteran-run farms; Miller was a captain in the U.S. Army before returning home to his family’s farm.
The Department of Agriculture also lauded the creamery’s partnership with Rise Up Coffee, Bartenfelder said.
“It’s an important ingredient, to find a partner like Rise Up, to push Maryland’s best fresh, local products,” Bartenfelder said.
Miller said putting his creamery’s products in Rise Up’s coffee shops has brought them to many customers who otherwise would not be aware of them.
“I can’t say enough about (owner) Tim (Cureton) and (business partner) Noah (Kegley),” Miller said.
Miller and his family were praised by several more local and state elected officials during Franchot’s visit.
“Unless you’ve been in business for yourself, you don’t understand the risk involved,” said State Sen. Stephen Hershey, R-36. “This is a great success story here in Caroline County.”
State Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37, said the creamery represents all the “good F words”: Faith, family, farm and fresh, good products.
“It’s the creative relationships that will sustain you,” Eckardt said.
Caroline County Commission President Dan Franklin said the creamery is one more item on a long list of things that make Caroline the best county to live in.
“Your risk has been our reward,” Franklin said.
Federalsburg Mayor Chuck Planner said he remembered when Miller was just beginning the process to open the creamery.
“It’s been a long haul,” Planner said.
Caroline County Register of Wills Jim Phelps said he got to try the creamery’s ice cream recently at the Tuckahoe Steam and Gas Show.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into this,” Phelps said. “Thank you for being here and making us shine.”
Miller said his farm keeps a small herd — about 40 cows produce milk — because the animals only eat grass.
“We are marketing a very special milk,” Miller said.
The milk produced by grass-fed cows is higher in nutrients, Miller said, including Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to lower risk of stroke, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Miller said the most important key to his family dairy farm’s success is the customers.
“We need people to consistently support us,” Miller said.
For more information on where to buy Nice Farms Creamery’s products, visit www.nicefarmsmd. com.
Comptroller Peter Franchot, left, presents the Bright Light award to Bob Miller, owner of Nice Farms Creamery near Federalsburg during the comptroller’s visit Monday, July 17.
Comptroller Peter Franchot, right, presents the Bright Light award to Bob Miller, owner of Nice Farms Creamery near Federalsburg during the comptroller’s visit Monday, July 17.