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Fresh on wheels: Holy Cow Delivery brings homegrown goods to the door

Samantha Stern pours some half-and-half
Samantha Stern, who owns and operates Lebanon Church-based Holy Cow Delivery with her husband, Tim, pours some half-and-half into her coffee. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

Braden Stern collects eggs
Braden Stern, 4, has the chore of collecting eggs. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

Products that Holy Cow delivers
Products that Holy Cow delivers include apple butter, milk, strawberry yogurt drink, half-and-half and garlic butter. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

Tim Stern waters the stock
Tim Stern waters the stock with help from Carson, 1. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

Tim Stern feeds the chickens
Tim Stern has help from Carson, 1, feeding the chickens near the delivery truck. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

By M.K. Luther - mkluther@nvdaily.com

LEBANON CHURCH -- While most families look forward to a relaxing weekend by the time Saturday rolls around, Tim and Samantha Stern spend their Saturdays rising early to load up a van and spend the day winding through the Shenandoah Valley, delivering milk and homegrown food right to people's doorsteps.

The Sterns, both Frederick County natives and Virginia Tech graduates, decided to use their agricultural backgrounds to provide today's busy, working families with farm fresh, locally grown and produced products. And, as working parents of two young children, the Sterns recognized the need for families to have easier access to those kinds of food.

"It is not fun to take your kids to the grocery store -- they want to put everything in the cart," Mrs. Stern explained as her small staff -- sons Carson, 1, and Braden, 4, dashed about the farmette gathering eggs for delivery.

Stern, the arborist for the city of Winchester, and his wife, an agriculture teacher at James Wood Middle School, started Holy Cow Delivery, based from their farmette in Lebanon Church, in October. Holy Cow supplies free-range eggs, lamb, goat and homemade apple butter from the Sterns' farmette, as well as local breads and honeys from vendors, and the Mt. Jackson-based Route 11 chips.

"We are trying to help people in this area promote their agriculture products, and then we provide the delivery part," Mrs. Stern said.

Mrs. Stern enlisted the help of her mother and father, Debbie and Sam Fauble, and grandmother Mary Richard, owner and operator of Richard's Fruit Market in Middletown, and her cousins, owners of South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Md., when she and her husband decided to take the leap and start their own business.

"My dad's side has the dairy and my mom's side has the produce with Richard's Fruit Market, so I live in the best of both worlds with access to everything," she said.

The pasture-raised meat is free of hormones and antibiotics, she said, so Holy Cow Delivery gives families natural alternatives to store-bought products as well as the convenience of home delivery.

"I think people are really beginning to care about their food -- they want to know where it comes from and they like homegrown," she said.

"It is a little more expensive but it is comparable to organic at the grocery store -- and they don't mind paying a little more for it because they know where it comes from."

The home deliveries also remind people of the all-but-forgotten-time of milkmen and local grocers who would become a fixture in a family's weekly routine, according to the family.

"It is like you are family when you communicate with them every week," Mrs. Stern said.

All of the creamery milk is delivered in glass bottles that are both nostalgic and eco-friendly, the Sterns said. The bottles are all picked up, returned to the Maryland creamery for sterilization and then reused.

"Most people remember the days when they were kids and had milk delivered to their home," Mrs. Stern said. "The glass bottles are wonderful -- people love it in the glass bottles -- it makes [the milk] a little heavier but it makes it taste fresher and it stays colder in glass bottles."

The Sterns made their first delivery in a refurbished step van, painted with the signature black and white spots of a dairy cow, in November, and have grown from five delivery customers to 25 standing customers, with as many as 41 rotating customers total.

Currently, the standard Holy Cow delivery route runs from Mountain Falls, Front Royal and Winchester, but the Sterns want to grow the business and can make deliveries throughout the area, Mrs. Stern said. The Sterns also make the products available at the Freight Station Farmers Market in Winchester.

Mrs. Stern, whose love of showing sheep earned her the nickname "sheep gal" in high school, also credits her active participation in 4-H and FFA with giving her the essential tools to run her own business.

"It all kind of meshes together -- I have the background to do this," she said.

For now, the Sterns have updated the products by adding fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice from a small, Florida-based grower and would like to continue to increase produce selection to give people everything a farm market does, only delivered.

"Right now, It is like a fruit market on wheels," Mrs. Stern said. "Because fruit markets are only seasonal and they close every November, but we have all the things fruit markets have, but we will offer them all year round."

She also said she would eventually like to include milk's time-honored companion to the Holy Cow product.

"When I think of milk, I think of chocolate chip cookies," Mrs. Stern said.

For more information, visit www.HolyCowDelivery.com.

Holy Cow products and prices

Delivery fee: $3.75

Milk:

Whole, Chocolate, 2 percent and Skim -- $4 for half gallon

Half and Half -- $4 for quart

Buttermilk -- $2.75 for quart

Yogurt:

Assorted flavors -- $1.50 for 6 ounces

Yogurt drinks:

Assorted flavors -- $4 for one quart

Meat and Eggs:

Sausage -- $4 for one pound

Hamburger -- $4 for one pound

Leg of Lamb Roasts -- $10 for one pound

Lamb chops -- $10 for one pound

Eggs -- $3.50 for one dozen

Apples:

Assorted varieties: $6 for half peck

Butter:

Salted or unsalted-- $6 for one pound

Honey -- $3.50 for one pound

Cream cheese:

Whipped plain: $6.50 for 16 ounces

Assorted flavors: $4 for 8 ounces

Jams:

Assorted varieties -- $5-$6 for one pint

Apple Butter -- $8 for one quart

Local honey -- $6.50 for one pound

Breads:

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut -- $6 per loaf

Grains Galore -- $5.50 per loaf

Honey Wheat -- $4.75 per loaf

Montana White -- $4.25 per loaf

Orange Cranberry Pecan -- $6 per loaf

Route 11 chips:

Regular -- $2.75 for 6-ounce bag

Sweet potato and cinnamon -- $3.50 for 5-ounce bag

Specialty items:

Sparkling Cider -- $6.95 for 25.4 ounces

Orchid Island Grapefruit or orange juice -- $5.85 for half gallon

Sweet tea -- $2.75 for half gallon

For a complete listing of products and prices go online to

www.HolyCowDelivery.com.

-- Source: Holy Cow Delivery



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