Essential Facts About Our Dairy Operation
How are you certified Organic/Biodynamic?
Certification of Organically produced products is done under the auspices of the USDA’s National Organic Program. Seven Stars Farm and the other farms whose milk is used to make Seven Stars Yogurt are all certified Organic under the USDA’s standards. In addition to its Organic certification, Seven Stars Farm is also certified biodynamic by the Demeter Association.
Can we visit the farm?
Visitors are welcome. The best time to visit our farm is in the spring and fall, when temperatures are moderate and the cows are out on pasture. Winter is, also, a cozy time to visit our barn, but high summer temperatures mean over-heated cows, flies, and sometimes stressed farmers. Consider yourself forewarned! We milk from 5 to 7 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m., and the girls are out on pasture between milking times.
Are your cows grass fed?
The cows graze on rotating pastures from early spring through late fall, coming in only for milking. While the cows are out on pasture, we are busy growing feed to sustain them though the winter. We strive to grow 100 percent of our feed. People need to know where their food comes from and we need to know where our cows’ food comes from!
Can you tell me about the welfare of your animals?
The issue of dairy cattle welfare is more complicated than one would think, and is just beginning to be thoroughly studied in a scientific way. I’m sure that our idea of the best environment for dairy animals will continue to evolve. It is a subject that we feel strongly about here at Seven Stars Farm. Fundamentally, our cattle are kept clean, comfortable, well-fed, and free to move about as seasonably permissible. During the grazing season, April through November, they spend most of their time on pasture. Calves are raised on whole milk instead of milk replacement. The cows are naturally mated via a bull. Their tails are not docked, nor do we de-horn our cattle. Generally, cows leave the herd because of some specific medical problem, such as infertility or mastitis. We have gotten pretty good at treating illnesses with natural remedies. The average age of our milking herd is approximately 8 years old, with some individuals living well into their teens. For more information about our herd, visit the Our Farm section.
Does all the milk used for your yogurt come from your farm?
No it does not. We produce approximately half of the milk used in the yogurt on our farm. Another quarter is produced by Camp Hill Village, Kimberton Hills (www.camphillkimberton.org) and the remainder comes from several Amish farms. All of us are certified organic and graze as much as possible.
Do you sell raw milk?
Although Pennsylvania is among the small number of states where raw milk is legal, we do not have a raw milk permit. All the milk that we produce is used for yogurt. For further insight into local raw milk options, check out the real milk website www.realmilk.com.
Is your yogurt gluten free?
Yes, our yogurt is gluten free.
Why is your yogurt more liquid than other types?
Our yogurt generally has a more liquid texture than most commercial yogurts because we don’t add thickeners. However, it shouldn’t be liquid. It can become more liquid, if it’s handled roughly or stirred up. In addition, its texture can suffer from being allowed to get warm or freeze. Each container is filled as a liquid and develops its body over the incubation period. Each batch is taste tested before being shipped from the plant.
How long do you pasteurize your milk?
We vat pasteurize our milk at 169 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Our culture manufacturers recommend this time and temperature.
Once I open a container, how long will it stay fresh?
Maintaining freshness depends on how you handle the yogurt. It’s best not to stir or shake it. Make sure to use a clean spoon each time you dish it out and keep the container refrigerated. Following these suggestions will maximize the shelf life of your yogurt.
What kind of bacteria are in your yogurt?
The primary yogurt culture is Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. We also add Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, and Lactobacillus casei. This is a website that can give you information on what the standard cultures for yogurt are and how they affect the texture and taste: http://www.aboutyogurt.com/lacYogurt/facts.asp.
Can the yogurt be frozen?
Freezing changes the texture, but it is possible. Our yogurt is generally okay beyond the sell-by date if it remains unopened, refrigerated, and handled carefully. Once you’ve opened it, it becomes susceptible to contamination from the air and utensils.
Distribution & Sales
Where is the place closest to me that I can purchase your yogurt?
Seven Stars Yogurt is available throughout most of the Eastern United States, as well as some parts of the Mid-West. While our distributors do not provide us with a list of retail stores stocking our product, we are currently working on compiling a list of retailers for the site. (Some of them are already available in the state-based search at left.)
Other distributors of our yogurt are:
United Natural Foods
Neshaminy Valley Natural Foods (215-443-5545)
Alberts Organics (800-899-5944)
Frankferd Farms Food (724-352-9510
Lancaster Farm Fresh (717-656-3533)
Four Seasons Produce (717-721-2800)
DPI Baltimore (301-430-2200)
Kehe Distributors (800-223-2910)
Can we purchase yogurt at the farm?
Yes, we have a small store here at the farm selling products we produce along with a few products from other local farmers. All the beef we sell has been born and raised on our farm.
When is your Farm Store Open?
Our farm store’s hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9am to 5 pm.
Organic Maple: $4.00 quart/$22.00 case
Organic Vanilla: $4.00 quart/$22.00 case
Organic Lowfat Plain: $3.50 quart/$19.00 case
Organic Lowfat Maple: $4.00 quart/$22.00 case
Organic Lemon: $4.00 quart/$22.00
Heavy Whipping Cream: $7.00 quart
Ground Beef: $5.50 lb.
Farm Fresh Eggs $5.00 doz
Beef Patties: $6.00 lb.
Beef Cubes: $8.00 lb.
Steaks: $12.00 lb.
Soup Bones: $4.50 lb.
Chip Steak: $6.00 lb.
Organs: $6.00 lb.
Hot Dogs: $8.00 lb.
Roasts: $6.00 lb.
Maple Syrup: $17.50 quart
Organic Cheddar $10.00 lb.
Organic Swiss $10.00 lb.
Organic Butter (from our cream) $5.00 ½ lb.
Organic Tallow $8.00 quart
Pork from Pasture Song Farm and fresh cut and potted flowers, in season, from Hickory Grove Gardens (part of Seven Stars Farm).
Can we get a shipment directly from the farm?
Regretfully, we are unable to ship directly to individuals. We are simply not set up to efficiently package and ship individual cases of yogurt at this time. We haven’t geared up to do this because, for most folks, the final product would be much more expensive than a local retail price.
Why do you only sell yogurt in quart size?
Our lack of a cup size portion is due to a combination of choice and necessity. We are a small dairy farm that processes our own milk and that of a few neighbors. We’ve been doing this for 27 years. Early on, we chose to stay farmers and not focus on expanding the milk processing business because we both enjoyed farming and felt that we could best control milk quality by staying farmers. By using only one container size (quart), we can remain economically competitive with larger yogurt makers. Small containers require a different kind of filling machine ($$) than the one we use for quarts. We also feel better about not using all the extra plastic that smaller containers require.
Your container #5 isn’t recyclable, why don’t you use #1 or #2 Plastic instead?
Polypropylene, #5 plastic, is used because of its physical and chemical stability at the higher temperatures present during filling. Our yogurt is put through the filler, and into the cups, at its culturing temperature of 108 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It incubates at that temperature for approximately eight hours. #1 and #2 plastics can’t handle that without being made much thicker. Container manufacturers have chosen to reduce the amount of resin as much as possible per container, thus they no longer make the thicker #2 quart containers.
The good news is that there are companies who specialize in converting hard-to-recycle waste, like #5 plastic, into household products. We send our yogurt containers to a company in New York called Perserve, who helps keep our containers out of landfills by recycling them into a variety of products. You are more than welcome to drop off your used Seven Stars Yogurt containers at our farm for proper disposal. Just please make sure that they are clean and dry! Here is the link for Preserve’s Gimme 5 program: https://www.preserveproducts.com/recycle.
Is your contain BPA free?
Our containers, and the plastic seal on top, are both BPA-free. If you have any additional questions/suggestions, please be sure to submit them to our contact page and we will do our best to answer them.