Shetler milk became a local staple in northwest Michigan soon after the family began bottling and distributing to retail stores sixteen years ago. George and Sally Shetler raised their five children on the farm in Kalkaska, Michigan which they’ve owned since 1979. Their quality product offerings continue to make the family-run business grow, but its also the way they conduct business that keeps consumers — like me— hooked.
It takes strong, intelligent and creative people to see solutions where others see obstacles and to take risks when others say it will never work. George and Sally Shetler are exactly those kind of people. Years ago, when milk prices plummeted in the commodity market the Shetler’s took a risk to begin bottling on their own and asking customers to pay for a higher-quality, local milk. They transformed a commodity, into a local, value-added product — an entirely new type of agricultural entrepreneurship in 1995, that continues to inspire our local food system today.
Perhaps this is why the Shetler’s treat their customers so much like family, because community support is at the foundation of their family-business. Whether at a farmers market, visiting the farm store or interacting with staff at an event, customers will feel welcomed and genuinely appreciated.
To give an extra dose of that appreciation, each year, the Shetler’s open their farm to the public and invite guests to tour the facility, meet the cows and talk with the farmers. It feels like the best kind of family reunion complete with a delicious local food picnic, ice cream, hay rides, face painting and more.
This year, Taste the Local Difference® partnered with Shetler Family Dairy to make the 16th Annual Open Barn & Cow Party a Certified Local Food Event. It means as much of the food as possible will be locally sourced and beyond farm-to-plate we’ll be ensuring a zero-waste event, with compostable materials and the help of Bay Area Recycling for Charities.
Join us, on Saturday, September 10th from 10am – 4pm for some fun on the farm! Find more information here.
Tricia Phelps is the Operations Director at Taste the Local Difference. She owns a small farm in Cedar, MI and loves to cook for family and friends with fresh, seasonal produce.