Shetler Farm Store

The Kalkaska Chamber of Commerce named Shetler Family Dairy the 2015 Business of the Year. Pictured, the dairy’s farm store.

KALKASKA — The Shetler Family Dairy and Farm Store is shutting down.

Farmer’s Creamery in Mio plans to continue supplying the region with milk following the Shetler’s formula, according to a letter from the Shetler family to customers that was posted on the company’s Facebook page. Farmer’s Creamery is buying the Shetlers’ bottling equipment, recipes, processes and slogan.

The Shetler Farm Store will close at the end of the day on Aug. 17.

The Shetlers will continue to deliver milk weekly to stores until Farmer’s Creamery gets final licensing approval and is ready to begin delivering product. That is expected to happen in late August or September, according to the letter. They hope to minimize disruption to milk supply.

Sally Shetler died in May 2018 at age 66. George Shetler died in January 2019 at age 67. The two were co-owners of the Shetler Family Dairy and Farm Store southeast of Kalkaska. The couple long held a commitment to “alternative and sustainable farming,” according to the Shetler Family Dairy website.

The Shetlers bought and started farming property on Tyler Road in 1979. In 1990, they started a “managed grazing system” that the family claimed produced happier cows.

The operation’s slogan: “Our cows aren’t on drugs, but they are on grass.”

Steve Nance, general manager at Oryana Community Co-Op, said Oryana has been selling Shetler products for more than 20 years. He said the Kalkaska couple helped lead the movement locally that included grass-fed cattle, rotational planting and non-GMO supplemental feed.

The Shetlers in the mid-1990s began selling milk to stores in their signature glass bottles. They completed their bottling plant in 2000, according to the farm history on the business website.

“George and Sally took the lead in the local food movement that is a big part of our community now,” said Diane Conners, a senior policy specialist who helps advance the food and farming program for the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. “They inspired a large number of young farmers in our region.”

The marketing of Shetler dairy products locally rather than the bulk commodity market is still felt at farmer’s markets and in community-supported agriculture, Conners said.

George Shetler had hand-selected Farmer’s Creamery to carry on his tradition of bottling a high-quality, healthy product, the letter states.

The letter was signed by Mike Biehl, Kaleb Shetler, Jake Shetler, Stacia (Shetler) Davis, Annie (Shetler) Olds and Pete Shetler.

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