Terra Firma Farm Creamery launches milk donation program

North Stonington — Brianne Casadei of the Terra Firma Farm Creamery has launched an online fundraising program that she says will provide hundreds of gallons of fresh milk each week to the region's food center and help local dairy farmers.  

Casadei started the "Give Gallons" project, also known as #TFFGiveGallons, on Jan. 1, and has since secured donations of 350 gallons of milk for the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center in New London. Her goal is to deliver 300 gallons a week, some of which she will be purchasing from other local dairy farmers, including Preston Farms.

For every $5 that private individuals, corporations and foundations donate via the farm's website, a half gallon of milk, or possibly more based on the market price, will be given to the food center, according to Casadei, who is also known as "Farmer Brie." She said an annual donation of $260 would help the farm provide milk every week for a year to a local family in need.

Every Monday, she does a "Mouth Off" post on the farm's Facebook page in which followers get a chance to win a gift certificate or product from a local business in exchange for sharing its post about the Give Gallons program.

"I feel like this is a win-win-win," Casadei said. "I can thank the community for supporting me, help other dairy farmers and provide a unique food drive for food banks desperate for milk."

The farm delivers milk to the food center twice a week, where it is received with gratitude.

Milk is one of the most requested items by families in need and is difficult to keep on hand because it's perishable, according to Dina Sears-Gaves, vice president of community impact for the United Way and overseer of the food bank warehouse on Broad Street in New London.

The food bank often has to provide families with vouchers to purchase milk at area stores, but now will be able to distribute the fresh farm milk through its mobile food pantry sites.

"Any way we can get a healthy product, an item that's so in need, out to our families is appreciated," said Sears-Graves.

Casadei has 15 grass-fed Jersey cows that each produce about 4 gallons of milk a day. She said the farm did a Kickstarter campaign years ago and built a pasteurizing plant so that milk can be pasteurized and bottled on site. Other farms ship their raw milk in tanks.

"We can go to their farms, buy their milk raw and process it here," she said. "We're trying to keep everything very local."

Casadei said #TFFGiveGallons is modeled after other programs and that this type of effort is taking place nationwide.

She said one of the most frequent questions she has answered is how she finds the time to run the farm, market it on line and raise her two children.

Her answer? "I don't sleep much," she said.

k.florin@theday.com

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