The Kappers family has always churned out creative ideas for their dairy. “Bob always had a plan. He’s an outside of the box thinker,” said Jeanette Kappers proudly in a 2017 Journal feature. Nestled into the community of Chatfield, the micro-dairy operates with the complete on-site production, processing, and packaging of their milk, as well as value-added products.
In 1984, the pair purchased their 150-acre farm, but 20 years later, they took a big leap, converting the remnants of a processing area on the farm into a fully-licensed milk plant. Selling their milk by the half gallon, in glass bottles no less, the family produced whole, one and two percent, skim, and even chocolate milk and customers quite literally drank it up. The taste, uniqueness, and nostalgia had people hooked. Less than a decade later, hand-pulled cheese curds were added and heavy cream in half gallon and pint were already farm favorites. A year later, farm-fresh ice cream: vanilla, chocolate, caramel swirl, and Oreo by the pint.
“We milk about 50 cows and it’s pumped next door to our processing plant. We use all our own milk,” said next generation owner Lucas Kappers. According to the family website, the milk is processed up to five times per week, with the milk typically traveling from production to customer in less than 12 hours.
Another pivotal direction for the farm was adding farmers’ market sales with both the Rochester and St. Paul markets, year-round when able. This niche proved vital in bringing further promotion of the farm and its products as well as stabilizing a new customer base.
Last October, the farm added another service: expansion of home delivery. While some larger cooperatives offer the service, Kappers is the only dairy farm in Fillmore County to do it and one of only a handful within the state. “It’s been received really well,” noted Lucas. “We wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t have ability to manage that many orders. With our new online software, we can have one or two people managing the day to day stuff, with a few part-time and delivery drivers.”
The timing of the new service has proved particularly helpful to consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the farm has seen a large increase in home delivery. Currently, it’s offered to just Chatfield and Rochester, with 40 households in town, but over 100 in the city. The family is considering other communities as well. “We’re really pushing next for the metro area and St. Paul and our goal is within a month to two months,” says Lucas. Byron and Oronoco have also been considered. “Just reach out to us. If there’s enough interest, we can do it,” he adds.
They’ve even added delivery of other producers’ products as well. “We encourage other producers in the area to reach out. It never hurts to ask,” says Lucas.
Even with the added workload, the family is already looking ahead to other offerings. “We have a lot of other cool things going on,” notes Lucas. “With home delivery, we’re looking at monthly ice cream subscriptions. When this shut down is all over, we will be doing milkshakes and deep-fried cheese curds.”
The farm store is open daily, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and is located at 33218 County Highway 5, Chatfield. During this time, the family is asking that in-person pickups be as brief as possible.
For those whom home delivery isn’t an option, there are ways to get your hands on some Kappers’ Big Red Barn products. Local stores, including Rushford Foods, Parkway Market in Lanesboro, Eyota Market store, People’s Co-op and HyVee in Rochester. Saturdays, they will be available through Rochester Downtown Farmers’ Market, which has for the time being, added online ordering and drive-thru pickup. Pick-up locations in St. Paul are listed on the farm website, as are all current pricing.
For those interested in home delivery, you can visit www.kbrbhomedelivery.com. By using the promotion code COWSAGAINSTCOVID, customers can receive a $10 credit on their first order.
For more information about Kappers’ Big Red Barn, visit their website, kappersbigredbarn.com, or find them on Facebook and Instagram. You can also reach them by phone at (507) 867-3556.