Ontario Dairy Goat Co-operative: 20 years and still growing

·3 min read

TEESWATER – What started in the summer of 2002 as a group of 13 goat milk producers is now almost 100 strong, a major player in agriculture, and growing.

A crowd filled the giant tent on the grounds of the Ontario Dairy Goat (ODG) Co-operative’s headquarters at 5 Industrial Rd., Teeswater, for the gala 20th anniversary celebration on July 23.

Among the special guests were Ontario’s agriculture minister, Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, who knows a thing or two about ODG – before she entered politics, she was the co-operative’s first general manager.

Bringing greetings from South Bruce was Deputy Mayor Mike McDonagh.

“Today is a great day for ODG,” said ODG chair René Zoller.

He recalled how the small co-op started to gain traction, purchasing its first black truck, to transport milk. Today, the fleet of huge vehicles is gratifyingly large; those trucks have become a familiar sight. He spoke of the drivers, including Larry Pellet, who has been with the co-op from the start. He spoke of the purchase of the property at 5 Industrial Rd., Teeswater. And he spoke of Thompson, the co-op’s first GM, and the general managers who followed her.

Referring to Thompson, he said, “She helped the co-op get a good start … from a small co-op to … a major force in the dairy goat sector.”

Of course, the members of the co-op themselves have been dedicated, and essential to the growth of the co-op, from those first 13 members who decided to form a co-op for the benefit of the group, “so all would benefit equally,” to the present membership of almost 100, Zoller said, applauding them all.

“I remember that black truck,” commented Thompson with a smile, as she brought best wishes on the 20th anniversary milestone from Premier Doug Ford. She spoke as both the minister of agriculture, and as the co-op’s former general manager, mentioning many people by name and greeting them as the old friends they clearly are.

“I can’t believe it, seeing the fleet here today,” said Thompson.

Fortunately, she and the others finished their speeches before the many children looking at, and through, the fleet of trucks discovered the vehicles’ horns.

Thompson said, “I tip my hat to the drivers, the directors.” She spoke of the way the co-op has maintained its high standards of quality over the years, and provided “good quality jobs right here.”

“I am proud of you,” she said. “I don’t want to see you stop growing … we have a world of opportunity ahead of us. This is the time for agriculture to reach for that brass ring … keep striving to be the best of the best.”

McDonagh said, “What an honour it is to have Lisa (Thompson) back here today.”

He spoke of Teeswater being “in a growth mode,” evidenced by the new commercial and industrial buildings that have been appearing in the town, including at 5 Industrial Rd.

“I hope you’re here for another 20 years; you do good work,” the deputy mayor said.

Zoller commented later on the many accomplishments of ODG.

“When I see all the membership here … we made it work.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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