The venerable Petaluma Creamery, established in 1913 by a group of dairy farmers, has dutifully anchored the west side of downtown Petaluma for the last century, defining the town’s agricultural roots and serving as the economic engine for the Sonoma-Marin Dairy Belt.
Some towns have bell towers, classic courthouses or breweries as their identity. Petaluma has its creamery – and is proud of it. Since its founding over 105 years ago, the creamery has been a story about cows, people, rollercoaster milk markets and the trucks that move milk from farm to table.
But the Petaluma Creamery is mostly a story about the people who have helped it thrive and prosper so farmers have an outlet for their milk.
Today, the landmark creamery, owned by dairy farmer Larry Peter, remains a vital link in the survival of family dairy farmers in Sonoma and Marin counties. Many in the dairy industry say that if it wasn’t for Peter, the creamery would not be around today. And without the creamery, there would be fewer dairies in the two counties.
Peter, a crusader for Sonoma County agriculture, believed the creamery was too valuable to the dairy industry to see it sold to a developer so the stainless steel milk silos and miles of pipeline could make way for houses or a commercial development. He borrowed millions to buy the facility and has invested millions more to keep the plant going. The creamery serves as a kind of safety valve, offering an outlet for highly perishable milk by turning it into butter, cheese, powdered milk and other dairy products.
“The Creamery not only has historic significance to our community but has been an essential component of our local economy as well. It has served local dairy producers for one hundred years and played an integral role in ensuring the longevity and continuity of our family farms. Larry Peter’s passion for his agricultural roots coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit is admirable and benefits the industry and above all, our community,” said Sonoma County supervisor David Rabbitt, a Petaluma resident and former member of the Petaluma City Council.
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