Cowichan Milk Company is a Pint-Sized Revolution

The Cowichan Milk Company in the Cowichan Valley is looking to the future by looking to the past: home delivery of milk in old-fashioned glass bottles.

Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet//Douglas

Remember the milkman? Cowichan Milk Company is looking to the future by looking to the past: home delivery of milk in old-fashioned glass bottles.

“We decided to do milk delivery for a few reasons,” says Margie vanBoven, who runs the company’s farm in the Cowichan Valley with her husband Ben and son Matthew.

“Glass bottles are reusable, and people don’t have to remember to bring them back to the grocery store,” he adds. “They just put them back in their cooler or porch box and we pick them up and credit their account. They’re also getting the freshest milk possible because we bottle it and the next day we’re off delivering it. Quality control is huge for us. We want to know that the milk is going straight from our farm into your home.”

Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet//Douglas

The farm’s 50 Holstein milk cows are fed a grass-based diet and have 24-hour access to a milking robot in their roomy barn. The rest of the time, they can eat, sleep and roam around as they like.

Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet//Douglas

“We raise all of our own stock, baby calves all the way up to when they become a cow and give us their first drop of milk,” vanBoven says.

The milk comes in three sizes: half- gallons, quarts or pints. The farm also produces cream.

“Our bottles come from Stanpac in Ontario, and they are the only North American supplier,” vanBoven says. “Glass bottles keep the milk colder, keeping it fresher longer, and it retains the freshness and imparts no foreign odours or flavours.”

Home delivery is available in the Cowichan Valley, from Shawnigan Lake to Ladysmith. Along with milk, the company delivers other local food products, including eggs from Farmer Ben’s and Lockwood Farms, Drumroaster coffee, Tree Island yogurt, Haltwhistle cheese and soup from Ed’s Soup Shack. Customers can also pick up the milk products from the farmstand, which is open six days a week.

“We do get a lot of interest from Victoria, but we’re not planning on going into that market at this time,” vanBoven says. “I don’t want to say we never will, but we want to give the Cowichan Valley a good shot first. If the milk that we produce here on our farm can be sold out in our local area, that’s just perfect.”

This article is from the April/May 2020 issue of Douglas.

UPDATE: Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, the Cowichan Milk Company is no longer supplying retail partners, as they cannot regulate safe bottle returns.

The company is carrying on with their home delivery program, though it is currently not taking on new delivery customers. Those wishing to sign up can be added to a waiting list. The farmstand also remains open.