Califonia Bountiful

Looking outside the carton

California family dairy hopes to bottle a little happiness

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In Tulare County, milk is king. Let's put it this way: If Salinas is the salad bowl of the country, this place is the milk carton!

But Tulare County isn't just California's leader in milk production; it's the leading county in the nation in milk production. Not that you have to tell the Rosa family that. They've been farming and raising their family in the same location since 1953.

Today, under the leadership of brothers Noel and Rolland, the aptly named Rosa Brothers Milk Co. is turning back the clock to a time when there was more of a personal connection between dairy farmers and customers. The family recently created a visitor center, where folks can learn everything from cow nutrition to water recycling and even get a tour of the family dairy aboard a bus called—what else—the "Moo-Mobile."

The family also recently started bottling their own milk at a state-of-the-art, 6,000-square-foot processing facility near their dairy, where visitors can watch milk being bottled into glass bottles. The project is still small, with only 10 percent of Rosa Brothers' milk going into bottles; the rest goes to a nearby processing plant to be turned into butter and other dairy products.

Noel and Rolland say they hope interest will rise in this new venture as dairy farmers continue to look outside the box—or in this case, outside the carton—to stay competitive.

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