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Tollgate Farm


“The thing that appeals to me about dairy farming is that this country has gotten away from producing things but if you are in agriculture, you are producing something important – it’s something that people need. People need food. And if you are making high quality milk, it’s nice to know that you are selling your very own milk directly to the consumer, and not have it mixed with everyone else’s milk. That’s what Hudson Valley Fresh is about.” – Lowell J. (Jim) Davenport Jr.

ANCRAMDALE, NEW YORK Jim and Karen Davenport have been raising cattle at Tollgate Farm since 1993, where they lease 140 acres of tillable land, growing enough grass for hay and corn for silaege to feed their herd of 64 milking cows and 80 youngstock. Jim and Karen met back in college, where they both graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BS in animal science in 1983. Karen went on to earn her MS in animal science and an education certificate and now she is currently the co-department chair of the agricultural education program at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in the northwest corner of Connecticut where she teaches a diverse curriculum including biotechnology and animal science.

Jim is a fourth generation farmer who was born in Torrington, Connecticut and lived in Litchfield, working with his grandfather, Preston Davenport, who had a dairy farm from 1939 until he sold the herd in 1975. Back then his grandfather was breeding Ayrshires. “That’s back when Holsteins were considered ugly cows,” explains Jim. “There was not a lot of protein or fat in their milk, it was too watery. But thanks to the genetic advancement of Holsteins, they got to be nice looking cows and their protein and butter fat levels went up.” Today the Davenports raise the two breeds of cattle, ninety percent purebred Holstein and ten percent purebred Ayrshire.

The Davenports keep their cows in the original tie-stall barn that came with the property. Jim likes the amount of room and ventilation in the barn and says it is easier to keep the cows clean and comfortable. Each cow has its own fitted stall, determined by its length and width.


“When I come in the barn and turn on the light in the early morning  all the cows are clean and comfortable, well that is what makes it worth doing. If I’m going to be in the barn at 3 am on Christmas morning, I want to work with cows that are attractive and friendly.”

Jim does most of the milkings, 12 times a week, but says his brothers often come to do relief milking along with the occasional friend. Jim and Karen have two daughters who are not currently on the farm. Kristen is at Colorado State University getting a dual degree as a PhD in Microbiology and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  Laura lives in Washington, DC, where she works in public affairs, specializing in agriculture. Jim and Karen started shipping milk to Agrimark, a New England based dairy cooperative in September 1986. They have been supplying milk to Hudson Valley Fresh since February 2007. “Being a member of Hudson Valley Fresh is a perfect fit for Tollgate Farm,” says Jim “because having the highest quality milk is our raison d’etre.”

Awards and Notable Mentions:

High quality milk has always been a priority at Tollgate Farm, which has amassed a fairly long list of quality awards in the last twenty years: