Brighton-Pittsford Post
  • More than milk at Pittsford Farms Dairy

  • It’s the Pittsford Farms Dairy’s inimitable milk products that put the business on the map, attracting a dedicated local following long before ice cream cones and strawberry whip cream eclairs were on the menu.

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  • There are dozens of different things to notice when walking into the Pittsford Farms Dairy and Bakery’s new central building for the first time. The wall opposite the entrance is lined with rows of milk, chocolate milk, creams, egg nog, all in glass bottles. Lit by milk bottle chandeliers, the cafe features milk jug stools and railroad spike coat hangers. Smells wafting from the new bakery area may entice customers to the rear of the store, but they’ll have to pass the new soda-style ice cream parlor to get there.
    For Charles B. Corby, who has run the dairy for over 50 years (including 20 with his son, Charles T. Corby), the new building is more than just more space and prettier decorations, however. It’s also more employees, more customers, and a whole new way of doing business.
    “At our other building, we didn't have the room to sell very much,” Corby said. Though the dairy did offer packaged ice cream and baked goods before, the new building’s opening in May brought a soda-style ice cream scoop shop, a bakery led by renowned pastry chef Jean-Claude Carvin, and indoor and outdoor cafe seating areas.
    That expansion bumped the total number of dairy employees up from eight to between 20 and 25. Corby said he’s still getting used to working with such a large staff.
    “As you get larger, there's always more complications, but the business is growing rapidly and we're thankful for that,” Corby said.
    It’s the Pittsford Farms Dairy’s inimitable milk products that put the business on the map, attracting a dedicated local following long before ice cream cones and strawberry whip cream eclairs were on the menu.
    The dairy receives four to five loads of raw, hormone-free, antibiotic-free milk from three farms about 45 miles south of Rochester each week. That raw milk is vat pasteurized on-site at a lower temperature and for longer than most other milks available in supermarkets. Unlike those milks, Pittsford Farms Dairy milks are pasteurized with the cream, then separated, giving the milks a sweeter taste.
    The dairy is also one of the few in New York still selling milk in glass bottles.
    “Our milk has a much nicer taste than any milk you might find in any of the supermarkets,” Corby said. “When you buy milk here, you know it's fresh because it's pasteurized probably within 24 hours of when you purchase it.”
    Though Corby said the ice cream counter and bakery have been popular throughout the summer and fall, he expects ice cream cone sales to drop off during the winter. In the colder seasons, he said it’s the dairy’s milk offerings that bring in the most business.
    Page 2 of 3 - “We tend to sell more milk in the wintertime,” Corby said. “It drops off a little bit as you get into the hotter weather in the spring, but that pretty much carries us through the winter.”
    Corby also said there are more seasonal factors than weather to think about in the dairy business.
    “We notice quite a difference when colleges have their breaks,” he said. “All the college kids are home for vacations and between semesters, and those teenagers can really pour the milk down.”
    Barbara Johnston is a senior planner at Stuart I. Brown Associates, who has helped develop agricultural land use studies for eight towns, including Parma, Perinton, and other towns in Monroe and Seneca Counties.
    She said that farmers have not faced as much pressure to develop over the last few years because the real estate market is moving slower. Still, the pressure to develop green space remains a threat to local agriculture.
    “Competition for land in Monroe is probably the biggest challenge,” she said. “(Farmers) have an advantage of being close to markets, which helps with direct marketing.”
    These “direct market” crops are those sold directly to the community at farm stands or markets. Johnston said that the push to buy local has helped make agriculture more marketable, especially to younger consumers, whether it’s selling landscape plants or fruits and vegetables.
    In its new building, Pittsford Farms Dairy has been able to engage customers in that push to buy local more than ever before. Along with milk and ice cream made on-location, the store also sells pastries and baked goods made with ingredients from the Baker Street Bakery on Park Avenue, ravioli from The Ravioli Shop, and locally-roasted Java Joe’s coffee.
    “With two Wegmans within two miles of us, we wouldn't be able to survive if we didn't have something that would attract people in here,” Corby said. “By putting all these local things together and offering them in one establishment, we think we have something kind of unique here.”
    Customers seem to agree.
    “This is the best thing that’s happened to Pittsford in a long time,” said Patti Guttenberg, who was in the dairy cafe with friends Dick and Patsy Beers on the morning of Nov. 19.
    “I'm a farm girl and I just love the milk here,” Guttenberg said. “It's the only place I like milk, because the milk tastes like milk. It’s delicious.”
    For Dick Beers, Carvin’s pastries are the main attraction.
    “He is a really great pastry chef,” he said. “The almond croissant is the best thing in the world.”
    Patsy Beers said it’s the whole picture — the people, the products, and the decor — that keep her coming back “as often as possible.”
    Page 3 of 3 - “This is rustic elegance,” she said. “It’s so wonderful.”

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