Diane and Ed McGarry both studied agriculture in college and spent years working for and with farmers before they started milking their own herd in 1989 and set down the permanent roots of McGarry Dairy in 1993. The couple met when both were employed as University of Vermont extension agents where Ed was still working a few years after they got married and decided to try farming themselves. “People thought I was crazy to give up my steady job,” Ed recalls with a chuckle, “but it was in my blood and I knew I would never be happy if I didn’t at least try. From the time I was little, farming was what I knew I wanted to do.”
Although neither Diane nor Ed grew up on farms, they both had family members in agriculture and were exposed to that life when they were young. Diane shared her husband’s dream. “Running your own business is always a challenge but challenge can be fun,” she says. “I’ve always liked animals and doing physical work and being outside.” The New York State natives looked all over northern New York and Vermont for a farm to purchase and ended up finding one six miles up the road from where they were living at the time.
Today they milk about 85 registered Holsteins and raise all their own replacement heifers for a total of about 180 animals on the farm. The couple raised four farm kids, the youngest of whom is studying agriculture and working on farms in the southern part of the U.S. where he’s in school, although he hopes to return to the family farm, his parents say. “Even though I could use his help here,” his dad says, “I want him to see how other people do things. It’s better that way.”
The McGarrys’ background gives them a broad perspective on the dairy business and they very much appreciate the value of the Agri-mark coop and Cabot brand. “So much has changed since we were extension agents thirty years ago. You can’t just do thinks the way your father or grandfather did them. You have to stay on top of your game,” Diane says. “With fewer and fewer people involved directly in agriculture, we do have to have a voice out there. I think it’s good to show consumers the faces behind the milk.”