Giving thanks: Farmers reach out
Friday, December 1, 2017
Posted by: MaryBeth Matzek, for DBA
Showing gratitude. That’s the message dairy farmers are trying to send to their landlords, vendors and employees by giving gifts and holding parties during the holiday season.
“It is all about saying thank you and showing appreciation,” said Jim Winn of Cottonwood Dairy in South Wayne.
Each year, Winn holds a Christmas party at the farm for his employees, vendors and landlords. The party lasts most of the day so all his employees can attend. He also hands out annual bonuses to his workers at that time, too.
For the people Winn rents farmland from, he not only invites them to the party but also sends them either a ham or turkey along with a cheese and sausage box. “It is another way to show we appreciate them,” he said. “It is a way to spread some goodwill.”
Any dairy farmer can give back to his neighbors and other businesses he works with, Winn said. It does not need to be a large gift; most people are grateful to be remembered. And since so many people in Wisconsin enjoy cheese and other dairy foods, that makes an ideal gift.
Dutch Dairy LLC in Thorp, for example, provides a cheese and cracker basket to its landlords.
“We are thanking them for allowing us to farm on their land and be successful,” said Amy Penterman, co-owner of Dutch Dairy with her husband, Sander. “Without their support, we couldn’t do what we do.”
Penterman said a handwritten, personalized note is included with each basket. “My husband hand-delivers the packages with a face-to-face thank you, too,” she said. “We get the cheese from the dairy plant we ship our milk to so they are receiving a part of our milk as well.”
During the holiday season, Highway Dairy Farms LLC in Darlington sends a variety of cheese spreads to businesses they work with, said Jean Stauffacher, who owns the dairy with her brother, Jay.
“We target businesses that we do business with. We want to remember people who do service work on the farm, do repairs on equipment, field reps from different companies we work with,” she said, adding they all play a role in the dairy’s success.
The Pentermans also say thank you to the wider community every other summer with a picnic at their farm. They offer food and fun activities for children, such as a bounce house, and hold an open house.
“We want to be open to the neighborhood so they feel like they are connected to us, too,” Amy Penterman said. “We want them to know what’s going on at the farm; we want to be friends, not just neighbors.”
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Sander and Amy Penterman of Dutch Dairy in Thorp, Wis.