Honest to Goodness Dairy and Community

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Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation


Farmers, in general, need to be extremely adaptive, creative and dedicated because of the many risks and challenges that confront them from day to day and year to year. After strong fluid milk prices in 2014, dairy farmers have since been particularly hard-pressed financially due to extenuating circumstances. A Shenandoah Valley dairy farmer recently shared that he had not experienced four years as challenging as 2015 to 2019 in his fifty years of farming. Farmers are increasingly interested in distinguishing their businesses in the current highly competitive marketplace. In addition, there has been significant growth in the demand for local and regionally grown foods. In response, a growing number of dairy farms have developed farmsteads, creameries, and supplemental enterprises to persevere and buffer themselves against the whims of the weather and vagaries of a changing dairy market. Richlands Dairy and Creamery is one of Virginia’s farmstead creameries and is owned and operated by the Jones family of Blackstone, VA. Their farmland straddles Dinwiddie and Nottoway counties and dates back to the mid-1700s. The Joneses researched different business plans for five years and decided to commit to starting a farmstead creamery to bottle milk, serve ice cream, offer meals, encourage agritourism, and provide a venue for other farms to sell their produce and merchandise. The Creamery officially opened to the public in June 2019 and is celebrating its one-year anniversary. The Joneses, like all of us, could not imagine they would be in the throes of a global COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.