Milking It: A look into a dairy farm older than UConn

The Stearns Family Farm is located on Browns Road in Mansfield. (Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus)

Mountain Dairy, the dairy cow farm in Storrs that provides UConn with dairy products like the milk in Whitney and the cream for Dairy Bar ice cream, has a rich history with the university.

Jeremy Jelliffe, the president of Mountain Dairy, explained that the Stearns, family who owns the company, had close ties to the Storrs brothers.

“The land given to UConn by the Storrs was from the Stearns family,” Jelliffe said.

The business has been running since 1871 and due to its close proximity to UConn, Jelliffe said he can only assume professors and students have been consuming Mountain Dairy milk since UConn was founded. The milk can be found today in Whitney, Buckley and North dining halls. Their milk can also be found in convenience stores, independent grocers and some family-owned chains.

“We send hundreds of gallons of cream to UConn every week for the Dairy Bar,” Jelliffe said.

Mountain Dairy products are used in some of UConn’s dining hall dishes, Jelliffe said.

According to the Mountain Dairy website, the Stearns family has lived in Storrs since 1772. Jelliffe earned his Ph.D. at UConn and was on the board of trustees as a graduate representative for four years.

“I also taught courses there for a couple of years,” he said.

With many small dairy farms across the U.S. consolidating, Jelliffe lamented on the current state of the dairy economy.

“Many dairy farms in Wisconsin and Iowa are shutting down due to low milk prices,” Jelliffe said.

He mentioned that Mountain Dairy is down to about a hundred farms, so he is working to find innovative ideas to help. With the decline in milk sales affecting the whole dairy industry, Jelliffe encouraged people to keep drinking dairy.

“(Milk is a) very helpful product that is incredibly nourishing and refreshing. We have sponsored the Hartford Marathon for two years now and our chocolate milk is given to runners after the race because of the health benefits,” Jelliffe said.

Jelliffe said that Mountain Dairy is currently working with UConn to set up internships and co-ops for students who are interested in the dairy industry. As well, students at UConn said they enjoy Mountain Dairy milk.

“The milk at Whitney is significantly better than the other brand on campus,” said third-semester communication major Amy Chu.

Some students have a deeper connection to Mountain Dairy.

“Ever since I was a kid, my mom would serve me Mountain Dairy from our local grocery store,” said third-semester accounting major Josh Vallera. “Every time I have a sip at Whitney, it fills me with nostalgia and feelings of home.”


Joshua Oculam is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.oculam@uconn.edu.