Do cows eat birthday cake? Oakhurst celebrates 90th

Ninety years ago today, one of Maine’s best-known businesses was incorporated.

Portland-based Oakhurst Dairy was founded in 1921, on Dec. 21, the company said in a release Wednesday.

Today, the business is the largest family-owned, independent dairy in northern New England. Today, the company employs 210 people and sources milk from 70 local Maine dairy farms.

It processes and packages 130,000 to 150,000 gallons of milk five days a week and distributes multiple dairy products in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont to more than 1,500 customers including supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants and schools.

Oakhurst has been owned and operated for three generations by the Bennett family.

“Our story is of one of growth, innovation, service and success,” said Bill Bennett, president and CEO, in the release. “We have been able to remain family-owned and independent while competing against dairies significantly larger than us because we have a strong brand identity and people know what we stand for and that they can count on us to deliver a high-quality product.”

Ninety years ago, milk was transported in glass bottles by two horse drawn wagons along two delivery routes within the Portland City limits. That’s obviously not a horse-drawn wagon below (we calls them ‘horseless carriages’), but it’s a cool old photo from Oakhurst.

(Oakhurst provided more historical photos below – check them out, they’re awesome!)

In recent years, Oakhurst became the first major dairy in the United States to reject the use of rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) in the production of its milk and put the information on a label in the form of a Farmer’s Pledge: “No Artificial Growth Hormone Used.” That led to a fight with Monsanto – the company that produced rBST – and a lawsuit that was settled out of court.

Oakhurst has made a commitment to giving back 10 percent of pretax profits annually to children’s and environmental organizations.

And the dairy has a reputation as an environmental leader for almost 20 years. One of the latest examples is the extensive solar array deployed on the dairy’s Forest Avenue buildings.