At Wholesome Dairy Farms, located in Oley Valley, owner Mark Lopez holds his animals’ health and welfare as the farm’s top priority. Mark has a commitment to produce quality products that are good for the consumer, the environment and his cows. Mark’s family has had roots in Berks County for 9 generations; his grandfather started the family dairy farm and inspired Mark’s interest in agriculture. However, Mark’s path to owning a dairy farm started in a different direction. He began his career working as a veterinarian at a large industrial dairy operation in Texas. Mark was able to see first hand the inhumane conditions of industrial food production, “what broke me was that I realized that I was being a part of the problem and not part of the solution. I was only maintaining the status quo”. As a veterinarian Mark found it to be backwards that he was helping these sick and injured cows only to send them back into unhealthy living conditions. “Now at Wholesome Dairy Farms I am making a difference and making something good while giving my cows a healthy life and producing a product that I can be proud of”.
Wholesome currently has 51 milking Ayrshire cows that graze on pastures from April to November. Mark prefers to use Ayrshire cows over the typical Holstein cow that is most often used in industrial dairy. He believes they are better grazers, have good cheese yield, excellent temperament, and offer an incomparable difference in the taste of the milk.
Why choose grass fed dairy?
When cows eat grass on pasture, they are also more likely to have good reproductive health, udder health, cleaner milk and develop fewer foot and lameness issues than cows that live on concrete. Grass fed cows have a much lighter carbon footprint since the cows “harvest” as they eat. Less diesel is needed to bring in and process their feed compared to alternative diets. “The cows also self fertilize the soil with their waste, which eliminates the need for energy intensive synthetic fertilizers. We use no herbicides or insecticides on our pastures, which is another energy savings.”
What sets you apart from other dairy farms?
“I am a cow advocate but it all starts with soil, there’s something to focusing on the soil first. Healthy soil is the catalyst to a healthy ecosystem and a healthy living environment for the cows. I want to focus on making a super high quality product that, in my opinion, is better than anything else out there. I’m not going to make or sell a product unless I think I can do it better.”
You can find Wholesome Dairy Farms raw milk, kefir, whole milk yogurt, cheeses and Greek yogurt available at all KWF locations.