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ELLINGTON, Conn. -- Stew Leonard Sr., founder of Stew Leonard's dairy store, was recently presented the Dairy Farm of Distinction Award at Stew Leonard's Oakridge Farm here.
Philip Prelli, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, presented the award to Leonard on behalf of the Connecticut Farm Beautification Program.
The award is presented to outstanding dairy farmers for keeping well-maintained farms and producing high quality milk. Farms nominated for the award must have passed all state inspections for the previous year, and the milk must meet state and federal quality requirements.
Stew Leonard's Oakridge Farm is the only recipient of the award this year. The farm is owned by the Bahler family, which milks their herd of 660 Holstein cows, producing more than 5,800 gallons of milk daily exclusively for Stew Leonard's. The milk is then transported to Stew Leonard's Norwalk, Conn. dairy plant, located in the heart of the family-owned food store, where it is pasteurized, homogenized, and packaged in front of the customer.
Stew Leonard's has the largest in-store dairy plant in the country, packaging 90 half-gallon cartons per minute and over 10 million half-gallon cartons per year.
Because the milk that customers buy at his stores has gone from farm to shelf in as little as six hours, Stew Leonard, Sr. became famous for his slogan, "You'd have to own a cow to get fresher milk!"