The Inspiring Journey of Volleman's Family Farm
“You take care of the cows, and they’ll take care of you,” fourth-generation dairy farmer, Andrew Volleman, said as he explained his dairy farming lifestyle.
Volleman’s Family Farm started in Holland in 1890 when the Volleman family ancestry “dairying” book tracked the first dairy in their family. Andrew’s parents, Frank and Annette Volleman, migrated from the small country of Luxembourg nearly 30 years ago and started the dairy farm they have today by purchasing about 50 dairy cows upon arrival to the US. For perspective, today, Volleman’s Family Farm has about 5,000 head of dairy cows.
According to Andrew, the first years his parents started the business were the most challenging. They learned about Texas from a newspaper article written about several Europeans making their way to Texas, so they decided to make the journey. They fell in love with the outskirts of the Texas Hill Country and decided to settle down there. The biggest hurdle they faced was moving to a country with two small boys and not knowing how to speak English. Not only were the language barriers challenging, but they also experienced one of the record rainfall years in Texas when they were just starting out.
Sustainability is important to the Volleman family, and one way they’re able to have a sustainable dairy operation is through their farming practices. The dairy reuses water several times by recycling the water used to cool the milk and then using it as drinking water for the cows or for cow cooling. The water is then used as fertilizer to grow crops which we will be used to feed the cows.
Each bottle of milk is bottled with recycled glass bottles. The family has an 8-step incentive program in place at all the grocery stores they deliver to. First, consumers pay an additional two dollars for each bottle at the initial purchase, after they drink all the milk, they are encouraged to rinse the bottle and recycle the cap.
In return, they can either return the bottle for a refund or for a two-dollar price break on their next milk purchase. Then Volleman’s Family Farm collects all the returned bottles from the stores and transports them back to their facility. Next, they use an industrial washing machine to sanitize the bottles. The bottles are then refilled and, finally, taken back to the store and put back on the shelf. “The glass bottle really stands out on the shelf,” Andrew said. “When people get to crack open a bottle of Volleman’s milk, they get to taste the quality preserved by the glass bottle.”
“When [the bottles] show back up to our warehouse, we first sort them out to make sure that any specialty bottles are sorted out and that they all go back into our glass bottles,” Andrew said. From there, the bottles go through a unique process with a one-of-a-kind machine that is meant for washing the bottles. They start off by cycling through a strong, soapy wash on the bottom, the bottles soak and then go through several rinse and scrubbing cycles, where they spray jets of water scrubbing the bottles out. Next, the bottles get rinsed out with fresh water, and sanitized to essentially kill any bacteria that may be left. Afterward, they head to the filler room. The bottles get “bottled” through a machine, and then once the cap and lid have been put on, the bottles aren’t touched once they are in the washer to the time they're put into a crate. Volleman’s Family Farm really maintains that quality from start to finish.
While the scope of their operation has grown since conception, they have continued to provide fresh milk to Texan families, all while creating new flavors ranging from whole milk, two percent, chocolate, strawberry, and cappuccino, and even offer a wide variety of seasonal flavors like Texas homemade vanilla, banana cream, eggnog, pumpkin spice, root beer, blueberry, and butter pecan.
No matter the flavor, one thing all their consumers can agree on is Volleman’s Family Farm is delicious.
Volleman’s Family Farm is still owned and operated by the Volleman family, a rare business model. As a united family, The Volleman’s strive to establish a lasting heritage for the generations to come, cherishing the joy of witnessing their children embrace the same passion they hold for the dairy industry.
Frank and Annette still help on the farm today. As well as their four sons and their wives. Benjamin, the eldest son, oversees the management of the farm and cultivates the nutritious feed that sustains their beloved cows. David and his wife, Anna, take charge of the dairy operations, dedicating their efforts to ensuring the well-being of the herd. Andrew and his wife, Shelby, skillfully operate the creamery, crafting delectable dairy products. Meanwhile, Daniel diligently cares for the young calves, ensuring their growth and strength.
Want to see it for yourself? The Volleman family offers daily tours of their dairy. The tour begins at 9:30 AM and ends at about 12:30 PM, allowing time to ask questions and enjoy the full experience. Visitors have the unique opportunity to witness the intricate process of milk production firsthand, gaining valuable insights into the significance of supporting local agriculture. A glimpse into the daily routines of dedicated dairy farmers will be granted, offering an immersive experience for all participants. From the youngest to the oldest, there will be an abundance of excitement and discovery awaiting visitors of every age group.
Andrew understands how special their family farm is when he learns where people come from to visit. “We've had families that fly in from Florida, and they're in Texas for a week on vacation, and they tour our dairy,” Andrew said. “It's really cool to see people attend the tour because there really aren't very many other dairy farms or even just ag operations in general, that'll open their doors, that are truly a working farm that makes their livelihood off of it.”