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Dairy Bar stays fresh during winter months

By Allison Bellucci, Design Editor

The Dairy Bar, next to the UNH Amtrak station offers a variety of frozen delights and general eats throughout the year.
The Dairy Bar, next to the UNH Amtrak station offers a variety of frozen delights and general eats throughout the year.

Located right outside the Whittemore Center and next to the train tracks, The Dairy Bar is a sustainable, fresh eatery that prides itself on serving wholesome, local, organic and campus-grown products.

During the cold winter months, The Dairy Bar continues to uphold this fresh reputation. Although more difficult because of the harsh New England weather, the café features multiple local products, as local as the University of New Hampshire campus.

Jane Calef, supervisor at The Dairy Bar, works closely with the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture horticulture expert Ross MacKeil to provide costumers with campus grown produce.

“Usually we get carrots or mixed greens or spinach,” Calef said. “But in the summer, we get our tomatoes, onions, but it’s pretty much whatever he has, I don’t count on just him.”

MacKeil runs the high tunnels on campus to grow this fresh produce during the colder months, a very unique aspect to the university.

“We grow in high tunnels and typically they have no concrete foundation and usually they are not heated, but we have one that is heated and one that is not,” MacKeil said. “Unlike a greenhouse, you grow directly into the ground. So, it’s the same ground as outside we just put a structure over it and it stays warm from typically just the sun, and then the other one we have a propane heater.”

However, MacKeil is not running the high tunnels alone. Accompanied by a lab of students taking the class, “The Food Production Field Experience,” they do anything from harvesting plants to chores needed to help produce their fresh product.

“The way it works is there is a class, a spring and a fall semester course. And then their lab section, they each have a three-hour lab section they come out here and work with me on really whatever needs to be done,” MacKeil said. “Sometimes it’s harvesting, and then other days it’s just, you know, sweeping, or washing the truck if that’s what needs to happen. Ideally it’s to work with plants and harvesting crops.”

Produce is not the only fresh product The Dairy Bar offers on their menu. Calef orders from local farms and businesses all over the New England area to achieve the healthy wholesome menu.

“When we go in and look for something, we look for something local,” Calef said. “For example, the mozzarella cheese, we get that from Pineland Farms, so that’s local in Maine. And then Cabot cheese, that’s Vermont. You know what I mean? We pull in from local places, and get anything we can local.” 

Erin Richardson, a Dairy Bar employee, believes this unique menu is what brings in a lot of its costumers.

“I think a lot of people are really into that, being sustainable, and it’s all fresh. So I think it really does bring people in,” Richardson said. “There are a lot of regulars, especially people who work at the Whitt so it’s nice to get to know those people.” 

Many of these “Whitt regulars” include members of the UNH Hockey team. Team members Casey Thrush and Matias Cleland order from The Dairy Bar often before practice.

“I enjoy eating food that is fresh and local and the portion size is just right,” Thrush said. “It’s fast, convenient and healthy,” Cleland added. 

Long time costumer Nancy Nicolazzo, who resides in Deerfield but originally hails from Durham, has many fond memories of The Dairy Bar from when her children were young.

“I used to live in Durham, so I used to come here with my children. I like that the food is very fresh and healthy,” Nicolazzo said. “And, I think that the atmosphere is very beautiful. It brings back a lot of memories of when my children were young. It was very different then, but we used to come here pretty often. I would take them for swimming lessons in the summer then come here for a bite to eat.” 

To costumers like the Carlson family, the organic menu is what causes Gretchen Carlson to take a trip from Lee to The Dairy Bar for lunch and ice cream with her two young children, Freja and Finley.

“Yes it is probably the reason we came here in the first place. We eat organically at home and we grow most of our food,” Carlson said.

“We have 12 goats. We have a rabbit and chickens, a llama, a duck … and about a thousand honey bees. We used to have more,” Finley said. “I like chocolate cookie dough [ice cream] and my brother likes the same thing as me.” 

The ice cream is one of the must popular aspects of The Dairy Bar. Supplied by Gifford’s famous ice cream, The Dairy Bar continues to provide their costumers with a wholesome product. John Cochrane, regional sales manager of Gifford’s New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts vendors knows their ice cream is a unique pure, hormone-less product.

“We are partnered with the Oakhurst Dairy Group. Oakhurst is, until very recently, family run; some of the family is still involved. They take a hormone pledge that there are no hormones in their milk and cream and we kind of carry that forward,” Cochrane said. “Our ice cream is just a little bit different than some of the other manufactures. We don’t use high fructose corn syrup, 95 percent of everything in the ice cream is manufactured on sight or sourced locally. Blueberries are from Maine, strawberries are from California, cookies are from Vermont. The stabilizers we use are actually pass Whole Foods purity standards. We are actually in all of the mid-Atlantic Whole Foods.”

Gifford’s famous ice cream has been voted “Ice Cream Grand Champion” for three years in a row at the International Berry Exposition.

“We continue to win for our chocolate, we have won for our vanilla, [and] vanilla bean,” Cochrane said. “We won so much, they have given us the grand champion, basically best in show in the ice cream category.” 

Gifford’s pairs with The Dairy Bar because they are confident in the way they represent themselves as a wholesome eatery.

“What we try to do is find good partners that would represent our products just as well as they represent themselves,” Cochrane said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the course title for “The Food Production Field Experience.” 

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