Local Hero Profile: Flayvors of Cook Farm
Kylee Denesha, CISA intern
Published in CISA’s May 2017 E-Newsletter – Sign Up Here!
Flayvors of Cook Farm, the beloved Hadley ice cream stand, is a favorite summertime destination for Pioneer Valley residents. Customers revel in the endless ice cream flavors, acres of lavish fields and trees and, of course, cows and chickens to hang out with!
Debby Cook, wife to Hank Cook and co-manager, currently helps oversee the farm and store, and she shared the history behind this family-owned business. “Joseph Cook purchased the property in 1909,” Debby said. “The family started the dairy business as a means to survive the Great Depression, and they did.” Cook left the farm to his four children, and Gordon Cook took it over in the 1940s, continuing with dairy farming and milk production. Gordon and his wife Marjorie left the farm to their four children, leading son Gordon Jr. to take over operations in the 1980s. Today, Gordon Jr. and his son, Gordon III, are in charge of Cook Farm. In 1998, the family added the store and started producing ice cream. “This was truly an asset to the business and brought a huge sense of community,” shared Debby.
Among the ice cream, animals, and scenery, Flayvors of Cook Farm packages and sells raw milk. “Some people believe that the enzymes in raw milk are what help lactose-intolerant people break them down,” Debby said. “There’s a lot of research that has gone into the benefits behind drinking raw milk and the nutrients we get from it.”
The cows at Cook Farm are milked twice a day, seven days a week throughout the year, and each cow produces about ten gallons of milk per day, although that can vary with the weather. The work that goes into caring for their herd must happen every day, regardless of what else is happening on the farm. “We have no control over it,” said Debby. “When we don’t get enough rain, the hay can’t grow. Also, this spring was awful for us. It was so cold that we didn’t get enough from the cows, and we produced less than what we’re used to. Also, if it gets too hot, the cows won’t drink enough. So we really have to focus on regulating them.”
In a society where we are consumed by the busy world, we tend to become removed from our food source and lose touch with our local businesses. Debby shared that she values customers showing interest in their farm, and participating in the local agriculture community. “It’s awesome when families and children can come in to see chickens or pet a calf,” said Debby. “They really enjoy coming in to see the animals, and they really enjoy our ice cream. People ask questions and we love having those conversations with people. ”
Debby said that she enjoys fixing and improving things, which is what makes her passionate about working at Flayvors of Cook Farm. “I get a sense of accomplishment when I can do something as simple as answering someone’s question, or making someone’s day easier.”
The Cook family is passionate about quality and raising healthy, happy cows. “We love making sure our cows are in good health,” said Debby. “Not just for the dairy, but for the wellness of our animals and the people interacting with them.”