Balto. Co. Loan Helps Complete Creamery

July 22, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

Bobby and Pam Prigel are moving forward with construction of a creamery on their Long Green Valley property, where they will sell organic dairy products made from milk produced by their herd at Bellevale Farms.

A $250,000 low-interest loan from Baltimore County, announced Tuesday, will help them complete and equip a 10,000-square-foot pole barn on Long Green Road.

"This puts the finishing touches on this project," Bobby Prigel told a gathering of officials and friends at the farm, promising to invite them back next spring for ice cream. "They will be pouring the concrete floor Friday."

The Prigel family has lived and worked on the 260-acre farm since 1895 and began an organic operation there three years ago. In May, the Baltimore County Council passed a zoning regulation that would allow Bobby Prigel to sell organic products despite the objections of some land preservationists, who argued that the law would open the door to factory operations.

The exterior of the creamery building resembles a farmhouse, with its wide front porch, stone facade and dormer windows. But until May, a shell was all the Prigels had to show for their $1 million investment.

In announcing the loan, County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said the creamery "blends in perfectly with the county's commitment to agriculture," which he said must be "an ever-evolving industry."

Rob Deford, owner of Boordy Vineyards and a longtime neighbor, said the creamery fits into the mix of residences, farms and businesses in the Long Green Valley, and he predicted its success.

"Farms today have to put their label on something and manage their own destiny," Deford said. "An operation like this puts land to profitable use. Farms cannot be parks; they are working landscapes."

Smith said that allowing the family farm to process and sell its own products directly to consumers will ensure its fiscal health and help the county in its efforts to safeguard farmland from development.

The creamery, which will feature ice cream, yogurt, cheese and butter, will sell only organic and locally grown products.

"I want to see the creamery happen for my husband and for the next generation of our family," said Pam Prigel, who treated her guests to homemade oatmeal cookies and iced tea Tuesday. "It means we will keep Bellevale Farms going into the future."

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