The Robertsons of Contoocook are the Cream of the Crop
History Channel's "The American Farm" features NH's Contoocook Creamery
The next time you sit down to enjoy an ice cream cone or a grilled cheese sandwich or a glass of milk — you might stop to consider what it took to get that scoop, snack or sip to you in the first place.
Luckily, the Robertson family of Contoocook Creamery can help. As costars of a new History Channel show, “The American Farm,” they’re eager to use this platform to shed light on what responsible dairy production really looks like.
“It is seven days a week, 365 days a year and almost 24 hours a day,” says Jamie Robertson, who stars in the show (and runs the farm) alongside his wife, Heather, and sons Si, Nate and Bram.
The show chronicles the Robertsons’ efforts to steer a farm that’s been in their family for five generations and counting into a new era — and a particularly challenging one at that. With lagging milk prices and more competition from larger commercial operations, it’s a trying time to be a dairy farmer in America. Add on Americans’ growing preference for dairy alternatives — think almond or oat milk — over the stuff that comes from cows, and you can imagine how it might get even more complicated. A key part of Contoocook Creamery’s strategy for staying afloat has been to start bottling its own milk and making its own cheese on-site; their products are now sold in stores and served at restaurants across the region.
“Many other farms have diversified into having cows and vegetables or cows and hayrides, things like that,” Robertson explains. “We tried a few different things but really felt our calling was with the cows.”
The television crews spent eight months embedded with the Robertsons, filming their life on the farm from all angles: planting crops, working with their cows’ veterinarians, tending to chores around their barn and, of course, milking the cows three times a day, starting before dawn.
The Robertson family is one of five families featured on the new show, and they’re the only one running a dairy farm. Robertson says his family took their responsibility to represent their industry — and New Hampshire agriculture — seriously, even if he knows some people might be skeptical of their line of work.
“We feel very good about how we operate inside the environment, and how we treat our animals, and how much love and care we put into the product we produce, and we really want that to come through — so people who enjoy dairy products can feel good about drinking them and eating them, and feel good about the dairy industry being part of the solution to a lot of global problems,” he says.
And if any vegans or other nondairy viewers want to tune into the show, he hopes they’ll do so with an open mind too.