John Kokoski was selected together with his family for this award in recognition of a very successful dairy enterprise in terms of soil management, crops, milk production, processing, and marketing. Located in rural Connecticut River valley in view of the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst the Kokoskis operate small dairy farm with a long and interesting history.
In 1904, great-great grandfather Stanley Kokoski and his family, purchased the farm in Hadley, after finding an ad for its sale, placed in the local newspaper. Back then the farm grew vegetables and had a small herd of dairy cows, but on two occasions the cows disappeared and the farm only grew vegetables. Today, John Kokoski and his family operate Mapleline Farm milking 50 Jersey cows on 43 owned and 48 rented acres.
In 1995 John began bottling his own milk into glass bottles and selling it from a tiny retail store at the front of the barn. In 2000 the present farm store was built. In 2001 Mapleline Farm Home Delivery Service was started by the Paul, John's son, the fifth generation of Kokoskis. Besides delivering milk in bottles and plastic, Paul also delivers cheese, butter, yogurt, eggs, meats, bread, juice and water.
On-farm milk processing is a new venture. Previously their milk was custom processed, but in 2003 the processing plant was relocated to the Mapleline Farm. The farm business has been made accessible to the public through open farm days, with a viewing window at the milk processing plant, and farm store.
John has worked closely with USDA and UMass Extension on nutrient management planning and other USDA programs. Both John and Paul are graduates of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and they now work closely with UMass in farm tours and student education. This year they hosted the Massachusetts Dairy Farm Day, which also coincided with the 100 th anniversary of Mapleline Farm. They take pride in their farm operation and are well deserving of this award. The Kokoski family will be honored, along with other 2004 New England State awards recipients, at a reception and banquet at the Big E on September 17.