WESTMINISTER, Md. (AP) — The milkman delivering fresh bottled milk to your doorstep once a week may seem like a thing of the past, but for some Westminster residents, it isn't.
The South Mountain Creamery in Middletown has been delivering milk and other food to Westminster residents since December, said General Manager Rick Byrd. The farm now delivers to more than 60 homes in the city, Byrd said.
Westminster is the only part of the county the dairy farm delivers to, but that could change, he said. If Carroll County residents outside Westminster show enough interest, the company could start delivering to other municipalities, Byrd said.
"The home delivery has taken a struggling dairy farm and turned it into a very lucrative business," Byrd said. "By taking the extra step of bottling milk and selling it directly to customers, we make more money off of home deliveries than selling the milk to another store."
With all the regulations on milk and federal pricing, a dairy farmer is selling milk for the minimal price to other companies, he said. For South Mountain, the delivery process is very cost effective, Byrd said.
Home delivery customers are charged a weekly delivery fee of $3.75, which provides money for gas, the driver and wear-and-tear on the delivery truck, he said.
The weekly fee covers one delivery per week, he said. The business charges a $1.50 refundable deposit per glass bottle in case one breaks, and a half-gallon of milk costs $3.50. The milk is fresh from the cows, and simply pasteurized and homogenized, Byrd said.
Marc Fisher, 47, is one of the Westminster residents utilizing the delivery service.
"We're supporting farmers and also getting something wonderful in return," Fisher said. "After drinking milk out of a glass, you don't want to go back to plastic."
Fisher receives about three bottles of milk every week on Tuesday mornings. He also orders seasonal items such as eggnog and various meats and cheeses, he said. Waking up to a cooler full of milk brings back childhood memories, Fisher said.
South Mountain started home deliveries in 2001 with only 13 customers, but since then, it has grown its client base to more than 7,000, Byrd said. The farm also delivers to other areas such as Hagerstown, Howard County, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Other farms in the county have thought about delivering milk and other items, but it wouldn't be very profitable, local farmers said.
Nona Schwartzbeck, of Peace and Plenty Farm in Union Bridge, said it wouldn't be cost effective for the farm to deliver milk in the current market.
Though Schwartzbeck doesn't believe deliveries would be profitable for her farm, she said South Mountain's business is a good thing because customers are supporting a local farm and getting an American-grown product.
"We thought about opening a convenience store and bottling milk at the farm, but (that type of business) just doesn't survive anymore," Schwartzbeck said. "It would be fun to mix and meet with customers."
Gary Dell, of Dell Brothers Inc. in Westminster, said he thought about starting a delivery process similar to South Mountain's, but time and money halted the farm's plans.
"We definitely thought about it," Dell said. "It's very expensive to do, and it's very time consuming as well. It takes a lot of manpower."
Milk isn't the only thing the farm delivers. Some other items available for delivery include beef, pork, chicken, sausage, yogurt and bread. Byrd believes farmers should be able to sustain a farm by means other than just being a dairy farmer.
Westminster resident Kelly Zavandro also uses the service and orders milk and eggs for her mother and sister, both of Westminster, since they don't have an account established with the farm. Her children get excited when they see the milkman refill the cooler on her front porch with bottles of milk each week.
"My kids love the fact that the delivery truck is painted like a cow," Zavandro said.
The delivery service doesn't cost any more than what she paid traveling to the grocery store for organic milk. The fact that it's local is just even better, she said.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.