Though New York City is an eclectic conglomeration of people from all walks of life, it’s rare that you will find a dairy farmer there. That wasn’t the case recently though, when more than 80 dairy farmers from New York and New England – all members of the Cabot Creamery Cooperative – took to the streets. Mother and daughter dairy farmers Bridget and Caleigh Wright of the Wright Place in Clinton, along with Austin and Diana Fletcher of the Fletcher Farm in Pittsfield, were among those representing Cabot and its farmer-owners.
Cabot sent out an e-mail to its farmer-owners, asking if anyone would be interested in making the trip to the Big Apple. “I thought it would be a good experience,” Caleigh said. “I had never been to New York City before, never had a reason to, or the time. And this was a chance to promote our product.”
The farmers attracted quite a bit of attention, all dressed in red plaid jackets and knit caps, carrying signs that thanked New Yorkers for buying Cabot cheese and other Cabot products. Two or three of the farmers had cowbells, Caleigh said. They even made security a little nervous when they went to the eighth floor lounge of the Marriott Marquis to get a better view of Times Square that first night. “We took the place over,” Bridget said.
“You could hear people talking, asking ‘What’s with the plaid?’” Caleigh said.
The group arrived on Thursday, Nov. 7, and came home on Nov. 9. While they did get to do a little sightseeing and take in a Broadway show, they spent that Friday standing outside of grocery stores and markets in the city, greeting shoppers and other New Yorkers walking by. Caleigh and Bridget were placed about one block apart on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They said some were thrown by a stranger smiling, making eye contact and saying “Good morning” to them, while others were eager to ask questions.
“Once one person stopped to talk to you, others would stop and listen and join in,” Caleigh said. “One guy was so excited to know that I was a farmer, and he was excited to know that Cabot is a cooperative and that money comes back to us from the sales.”
The stores offered Cabot samples inside, and Bridget said the shoppers would come out and tell her which cheese was their favorite. One man who stopped at Caleigh’s store bought five blocks of cheese and then later came back with coffee and muffins to share with Caleigh.
“Everyone was worried about us being cold,” Bridget added. “I said, ‘We’re from Maine. This is tropical.’” Workers at the store were also concerned about the long hours the farmers spent standing outside – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. But as farmers, their average work days stretch much longer.
Many people wanted to know how big the Wrights’ farm is. Started in 1956, the Wright Place is currently milking about 640 cows with a maximum capacity for 700 milkers. Milking twice a day, they produce about 51,000 pounds (5,930 gallons) of milk each day. The farm employs 14 full and part-time workers. Bridget’s husband Brian “Barney”, his brother Steve and their uncle Ray are the owners. Bridget and Caleigh, along with Uncle Ray, are responsible for the care of the calves.
You can watch a video from the farmers’ trip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKxP1Jtd2p8
This recipe is from Caleigh:
“I’m a big mac and cheese fan, and I looooove spinach, and I’m so glad that Cabot recently posted this recipe! It’s not mine, but I recommend it!” http://thepalateprincess.com/sunday-supper-spinach-artichoke-mac-cheese/