Current Progressive Dairy digital edition
Advertisement

Vale Wood Farms: How it all started...

Marcia Itle, Alltech Published on 18 January 2013

Editor's note: Progressive Dairyman reached out to Marcia Itle, a territory sales manager for Alltech, and invited her to provide information about her Global 500 presentation, "The Milkman Farmer," where she talked about her family's business and what keeps them successful.

Vale Wood Farms in Loretto, Pennsylvania, has been producing and delivering quality dairy products since 1933. Itle helps out on her family's operation on weekends and does a little bit of everything, from milking cows to feeding calves to helping deliver products.

advertisement

advertisement

In 1816 John and Joseph Itle traveled from Switzerland to America. The brothers were farmers and potters by trade. Upon arrival to the new world, they settled in a small town called Loretto, Pennsylvania.

John was deeded a five acre plot of land from Loretto’s famous prince priest Father Demetrius Gallitzin. John built a small log cabin homestead, and so began the Itle Family.

After the Civil War, John’s son, Francis, returned to the farm. Francis eventually passed the farm to his son Charles Albert. Charles Albert, a progressive farmer, expanded the farm's acreage and started to also deliver milk to local families and the former Penn Cress Ice Cream Company in the local town of Cresson around 1915. In 1933, Charles began to process milk himself.

He named his new business Vale Wood Farms, which describes the location of the farm’s first five acres, “in the valley by the woods.”

That is how Vale Wood Farms began, and now seven generations later, I am a part of that history! My presentation at Global 500 was entitled, “The Milkman Farmer: become the delivery man.” I gave this presentation to Global Dairy Producers.

advertisement

I started my presentation with the words, “I am not technical, I am truly just a farmer’s daughter”. This allowed me to relate to my audience and gain credibility.

Realistically, anyone can milk cows, and anyone can process milk; what makes Vale Wood Farms so unique is that we do both and have for the past 80 years.

During my presentation I also spoke more about the three business segments of Vale Wood Farms: our farm, the processing plant, and the way we sell our products to retail and wholesale accounts and at our on farm dairy store.

At our farm we milk 200 registered Holstein cows, and have grown our farm from five acres in the 1800s to farming 500 acres today.

We are proud to meet standards that certify our farm as “cow friendly.” This proves that our dedication to quality dairy products begins with our commitment to a healthy, happy herd of dairy cows. We also meet the requirements to be part of the FARM program through NMPF (National Milk Producers Federation).

We have more than 1,000 school children tour our farm in the summer and fall as well as hosting a customer appreciation jubilee, and several other fall activities. All of these events assist us in telling our “Moo to You” story.

advertisement

With the current prices of milk, rising feed costs and government regulations constantly becoming more challenging for today’s producers, it is difficult for dairy producers to make a living in an industry that they are so passionate about.

We deliver our milk in a 60-mile radius from our farm which includes schools, houses and stores.

At Global 500 the idea of my presentation was to show producers from around the world how we started our business, stressing the point that is was not easy, but we have been able to persevere and make a profit. It encouraged producers to think outside the box, and develop a niche market for their wholesome product.

I had the opportunity to speak to producers from several countries afterwards that have already developed their own market for their artisan cheese. Another producer from Wisconsin stressed how well they were able to educate the public on dairy products and tell their story through home delivery and their on farm dairy store.

A farm in Kentucky commented on how long we have been delivering milk and the fact that they started making ice cream a few years ago and cannot believe how fast the business picked up. He has a future dream of delivering milk to their local town.

I was interviewed by a radio station and told them that I was the milkman’s daughter, as I grew up delivering milk with him to his local customers. There are 50 full- and part-time employees at our farm, and 15 of those are family. Vale Wood Farms is on its fifth generation of home delivery customers.

I also showed the following presentation at the end of my presentation from an interview that was done with my Uncle Dan:

Click here to learn more about Vale Wood Farms. Click here or leave a comment below to contact Marcia Itle. PD

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS