Planting a LiLi
Written onAugust 22 , 2014
To understand what the LiLi pasteurizer—conceived and developed in Vermont—could mean to the dairy community of Orange County, New York, I drove to the Hudson Valley in early July and chatted with some longtime dairy farmers.
They told me—a few minutes before the ribbon-cutting ceremony that would officially inaugurate Bob-White Systems’ first on-farm pasteurizer—that there used to be 600 dairy farms in their county, just east of where New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey all meet. Now there are 43, 44, maybe 45.
“You can make more money growing houses,” one farmer said.
It sounded all too familiar to this Vermont visitor. Yet the LiLi (pronounced “lily”)—a new kind of HTST (high-temperature, short-time) pasteurizer—could lead to a better day for at least two Orange County farm families, allowing them to sell non-homogenized, gently pasteurized milk to consumers who want farm-fresh milk but don’t necessarily want raw milk.
Many of Orange County’s dairy farmers had come to the O’Dell farm in Middletown that Sunday to support Rose and Lee Hubbert and their business partner, Mike O’Dell, as they launched their new venture: the sale of on-farm pasteurized milk under the brand name “Ole’ Mother Hubbert Creamline Milk.” The farmers were supportive but also curious: Would people pay roughly $1.50 more per half-gallon for this milk? Would Orange County’s first fluid milk processing venture in 40 years bring economic security to those involved? And what exactly was this LiLi pasteurizer?
Rose Hubbert (second from left in photo) was in charge of the day’s ribbon cutting and celebratory barbecue. For more than a year, she worked with Steve Judge of Bob-White Systems (based in South Royalton, Vermont) to make the O’Dell farm the first site in the country to use the new LiLi.
“It’s been a bumpy road, but we’ve gotten through it,” Rose said triumphantly through a microphone to 30 or so onlookers. Then she cut the ribbon with her family and Mike O’Dell.
Mike (third from left in photo) is the farmer in the business venture, officially called Back to the Future Farm. Just shy of his 21st birthday on the day of the ribbon cutting, he grew up dairying with his dad. Now he’ll be milking the Ole’ Mother Hubbert cows while the Hubberts handle marketing and milk sales.
On the next two pages are more photos from that day, plus more about the LiLi pasteurizer. Should a Vermont dairy be the next to buy a LiLi, I won’t have to drive so far to see the latest example of regional farmers taking back control of their own pasteurized milk production.
—Text and photos by Caroline Abels, editor
Vermont’s Local Banquet
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