PALATINE BRIDGE — In 1723, about 50 years before the American Revolution, Warner Dygert first opened a dairy farm on 50 acres of land in Palatine Bridge in Montgomery County. This year marks its 300th year in operation under the 11th generation of Dygerts.
Assemblyman Robert Smullen, R-Johnstown, visited the farm Tuesday to present Robby and Shannon Dygert with an official proclamation from the Assembly recognizing and congratulating the family for its years of operation.
“The state of New York takes great pride in recognizing and honoring those organizations that have selflessly dedicated themselves to inspiring others and improving their communities,” Smullen said while presenting the proclamation.
The Dygerts now operate on 650 acres of farmland and have 272 cows total, including heifers and calves. Since 2009, when they took over the family farm from Robby’s father, they’ve grown from 64 to 230 milking cows. They make about 2,000 gallons of milk a day and process about 3,500 gallons of milk in about a day and half. They recently just started making ice cream.
“We’re very honored to have this,” Shannon Dygert said, after receiving the proclamation with her husband. “Right here where we stand is the original 50 acres that was deeded to the Dygerts when they first came here. We’re honored and we’re excited to see where the farm is headed and what will happen in the future.
The farm hosts a trailer-like structure where customers can come to the farm and buy milk and other dairy products right on-site. The milk is available in both plastic and glass bottles.
“Some people still prefer the glass and they bring back the glass bottle for a deposit,” Shannon Dygert said. “Some people love the glass, while others want the convenience of plastic.”
The Dygerts also won second place at last year’s New York State Fair in the fluid milk category and have won several Super Milk Awards for the quality of their milk.
“The things that have happened in the 300 years this farm has been here is nothing short of amazing,” Smullen said. “To me, it’s just so special that it’s a family farm that goes from generation to generation, essentially doing the same things, which is to take product from America’s agricultural heartland and send it to the dense urban areas — in this case, the Capital Region — to feed people so they don’t have to do it themselves.”
In a normal week, the cows are milked and the milk is processed on Tuesdays. The rest of the week, the product is delivered to 90 stores and about 100 homes, including to the state Capitol in Albany. Their delivery radius is largely about one hour of travel in every direction.
“People want to know where their food is coming from, especially with all the scares you come across in the news and such. So, they can come directly to a farm, buy their products and know where it’s coming from,” Shannon Dygert said. “We’ve found there’s nothing to hide. You come here and [the product] starts and ends here. We’ve found that our role from just farming turns into more of an education. We have phone calls and a lot of questions that people ask.”
They added that, when possible, Robby also treats those coming with children to a tour to see the calves.
The Dygerts purchased their own $600,000 milk processing plant last year and they have more plans to expand. They recently reached an agreement with Price Chopper to sell their products.
“As we’re growing, we’re running out of room. So, we’re going to expand the coolers to make sure we have enough capacity and, once we do that, we’re going to build a larger store off the front of the cooler, so we’ll have a larger store where we can offer more local products,” Shannon Dygert said.
The Dygerts hope to continue to pass the farm on down to their children. They said their oldest son has taken an interest in mechanics — which Robby said he supports since, after spending hours on a machine, the last thing he wants to do is spend more time working on it.
“We’re excited to have our kids grow up here and take an interest in the farm,” Robby Dygert said. “That’s how I grew up. I lived right down the road and I remember getting off the school bus and running up here every day. And we’re just excited that we can do what we do and people appreciate it and being recognized for it.”