Husband and wife team, Melissa and Max Benedikt operate Benedikt Dairy at Shirley Farm in Goffstown, NH. Benedikt Dairy is certified organic.
Their wonderful products, which you can pick up at A Market, include eggs, cream-top and Greek yogurt, Benedikt Butter (spreadable cultured butter), raw milk, cheese, ground beef, pork chops, breakfast sausage, and Italian sausage.
Melissa and Max have a background and education in organic agriculture. They met in Germany years ago, decided to get married, and made a plan to run an organic dairy farm.
Melissa’s grandfather was a dairy farmer as well. The Shirley Farm, now in it’s ninth generation of family ownership, presented itself as the right choice for them to manifest their dream. These two hardy souls started out in 2011 by hand-milking four cows. Today, they put in long days along with several part-time employees. They have 32 cows, approximately 500 chickens, and 20 pigs. Their success has been earned by tremendous effort coupled with their passion to offer the community dairy that is safe, nutritious, and environmentally responsible.
When visiting, you can feel the wonderful quality of air, the vibrant energy of the earth, and the grounded feeling of the farm itself. The cows and chickens look healthy and happy. You get a really good feeling about the quality of milk and eggs coming from these well-cared for animals as well as the immaculate state of cleanliness in their kitchen and processing areas.
We asked Melissa about the concern of raw milk, meaning it is not homogenized or pasteurized. She explained that many people say there are health benefits of consuming raw milk including the consumption of important enzymes and beneficial bacteria. If someone is producing raw milk, it is important the milk is tested for cleanliness which it is at Benedikt Dairy. Also, for those who may have an intolerance for regular dairy, raw dairy is different as it still has lactase, which is the enzyme that facilitates the digestion of dairy.
From their website:
“Our milk is raw and whole. It has cream that rises to the top and it’s deep yellow from the grass that makes it. It’s at the heart of European culture in the ecosystems of the temperate climates. It’s the milk that we have evolved to drink… Our milk is USDA certified organic by the NH Department of Agriculture Markets and Food. That means we adhere to the standards set forth by the National Organic Program including and beyond: no antibiotics, hormones, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and no GMOs. Being certified also means to implement plans for soil nutrient management and improvement, conservation and biodiversity. All of this contributes to a healthy environment and food and ultimately happy lives for all of us.
Our cows are Jersey cows that live on pasture day and night through the growing season and eat grass and herbs. They are managed intensively through planned rotation to provide them with the optimal nutrition, so that they can make the most nutritious milk. In this process they build topsoil, sequester carbon in the ground and live to the full extent of their being. In the winter they eat dry and fermented hay. They always get sea salt and minerals to complete their diet.”
We asked Melissa what she enjoys most about this remarkably strenuous career she and Max have chosen. She laughs and says, “I love problem solving! What to do when we are faced with frozen ground or frozen pipes. We love being outdoors.” Melissa and Max have come a long way since they opened by hand-milking four cows. She continues, “We’re trying. There’s a long way to go. Our animals are healthy. We are growing our herd. It is important to keep farmland active. We really appreciate the support we’ve gotten from the community. Buying milk from us means buying milk from your neighborhood dairy, from these cows.”
If you haven’t tried products from Benedikt Dairy, you can pick them up at the Manchester A Market store. Be sure to visit and LIKE their Facebook page.