Longboat Garden Club heads east to the farm
It was a down-on-the-farm day for the ladies of Longboat Key’s Garden Club. Wednesday the group took a trip out east to Dakin Dairy Farm in Manatee County’s Myakka City. Dakin Dairy is home to over 1,500 cows milked three times per day with an output of 14,000 gallons.
And where, you might ask, does all that milk go? After being processed in the farm’s own processing plant, which pasteurizes, homogenizes and bottles the milk, it is sent off to local Whole Foods, Sweet Bay and Farm Stores.
“When I first got into farming with my husband there were between 15 and 20 working dairy farms in the area. Now there are only three all owned by Dakin brothers. This one is owned by myself and Jerry,” said Karen Dakin, co-owner and wife.
Dakin, a former resident of the Washington D.C. area and daughter of a Obstetrician and Gynecologist, said she always wanted to be a farmer to live off the land. Her husband Jerry is a second-generation farmer.
Dakin Dairy Farms, a sustainable farm, grows the food for the cows; fresh, protein rich grass, as well as corn. This sustainable farm offers tours so that visitors can experience a working farm firsthand.
The ladies of Longboat’s Garden Club watched cows getting milked, showered and fed. They learned what a cow’s life is like on the farm, how the farms works from behind the scenes. They even watching cows go to the milking parlor. From the milking parlor the milk went from the cows to pipes, which carry the milk to a processing room.
The ladies also enjoyed a hayride around the farm to see the fields where high-protein rich grass is grown, fertilized by the cows. The group also enjoyed meeting and bottle-feeding calves, watching a piglet race, ducks, hens and chicks, as well as donkeys and all the herding dogs of the farm.
The tour ends up at the Farm’s on-site store and café where the ladies dined on homemade tomato soup made with cream from the farm; grilled cheese, toasted in Dakin butter and other assorted treats.
Touring season on the farm is fall to spring. General Public Tours are $10 for adults; children 2 years old and under are free with an adult.
The tour includes learning the benefits of a fresh grass diet, how Dakin Dairy practices sustainable farming, watching milk travel from the cow to the bottle, learn and watch pasteurization, and how Dakin makes the different levels of fat in the milk.
After your tour, you may choose to enjoy other attractions on the farm such as: getting lost in the corn maze, riding the cow train, feed the goats, visit the animal barn and hen house, relax in a tire swing, climb a sand mountain, watch the pig race, dig for fossils, visit the Farm Market for fresh ice cream, honey or have a tasty BBQ pulled pork sandwich.
Tours are conducted Wednesday through Friday at 12 p.m. only and on Saturday’s at 10 a.m., 12 noon and 3 p.m.
General public tours require no reservation. Groups of over 10 should call the Farm’s Tour Director (941) 322-2802.