By Paula MacDonald
For a child, few things are more enjoyable than a trip to the farm. The experience of seeing how vegetables and fruits are grown and prepared for the dinner table and how farm animals are raised and cared for is a lasting memory carried into adulthood.
Less than one hour south of Brandon in Manatee County, Dakin Dairy Farms is a working dairy farm, but dairy owners Jerry and Karen Dakin and their family are also in the business of making memories for area families. The farm is the only dairy farm in all of Florida that produces and bottles its own milk and offers tours to the public.
Located on 1,000 acres in Myakka City, Dakin Dairy Farms is a fully sustainable farm, growing its own fresh grass by utilizing a fully integrated composting system to fertilize and create a nutrient rich environment to improve sandy Florida soils. Cows are fed a diet of fresh grass that is cut twice daily and mixed with a well balanced mix of grains, minerals and hay to produce a high quality, sweet, white milk.
The farm produces 100 percent natural fresh milk, including fat free, one percent, two percent and whole milk, chocolate milk, fresh heavy cream and half and half. Dakin products can be found in the Brandon area at Latino’s Supermarket in Valrico; Fresh Farm Market in Riverview; Apollo Meats in Apollo Beach and Mabry’s Market in Wimauma, as well as Whole Foods supermarkets and several area restaurants.
Dakin Dairy Farms’ tour is a one-of-a-kind attraction in the area, offering guests the opportunity to observe the entire milk production process, from cow to bottle. The farm is open to the public Wednesdays through Saturdays, from October to June. Tours are also available during the week for groups and school field trips.
“Opening the farm for tours has really been a labor of love for our entire family,” said Karen Dakin. “As the number of Florida dairy farms continues to dwindle, it’s important for the next generation to know how important farming is, and how local farmers play a vital role in keeping families healthy with natural, wholesome products.”
Dakin’s season concludes on Saturday, June 7 with its Second Annual Dakin Dairy Day, held in conjunction with National Dairy Month. From 10 a.m.-5 p.m. guests will be treated to a variety of fun farm activities, including calf scrambles, pig races, a 35 ft. waterslide, rock-climbing wall and live, local music. There will also be plenty of food, including the EXTREME grilled cheese experience, fresh roasted corn with homemade Dakin butter, pulled pork and more. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 2-10, and children under 2 are free. Tours will be available during the Dairy Day event for an additional fee, and parking at the dairy is free.
Dakin Dairy Farms is located at 30771 Betts Rd. in Myakka City. For more information, visit DakinDairyFarms.com or call (941) 322-2802.