Creamery project aims to bring dairying – and agritourism – back to Bovina

By Jane Margolies, 3/1/2017
Source: Watershed Post (link)

The dairy barn at the center of this aerial view is flanked by other buildings that are part of the Hilson farm, purchased by the Livestock Foundation. The black-roofed brick structure is the Bovina creamery. Photo by Jessica Vecchione.

A couple years ago, Bovina resident John Finn, founder and CEO of Indiepay, which has offices in Delhi, was sitting around with his partner, Wendy Buerge, and his brother, Delhi dairy farmer and cheesemaker Dan Finn. They were talking about the difficulties of small-scale farming—which Dan knew about first-hand—and the budding resurgence in farming in and around Bovina, where the Finns grew up. They wondered if there was something they could do to help it along. The Hilson Bros. grocery store on Route 6 in the hamlet of Bovina Center had been shuttered for decades—what if they could turn it into a farm-to-table restaurant showcasing food grown and raised in the area? Just steps away, the old Bovina creamery, too, was vacant—was there some way to get it up and running again so that dairy farmers had a place to take their milk? And the farm next to the creamery—could that again be home to dairy cows whose milk could be processed next door and the dairy products used in the restaurant just up the block?

The Hilson store in 1943. Photo possibly by Jim Hilson.

Recently, the Finns, Buerge, and others they have partnered with have taken another step towards making those ideas a reality. Bovina Valley LLC, the company John Finn set up to operate all these coordinated efforts, already owns the grocery store and the creamery and is cracking ahead with renovations to both buildings so that the creamery can open this summer and the restaurant next year. And now the company’s non-profit education arm, the Livestock Foundation, has purchased the Hilson farm next to the creamery. The farm consists of 55 acres and five buildings including a large dairy barn dating to 1929. The seller was Tom Hilson, whose great great grandfather started the farm in the 1880s; for many years Hilson operated the farm before renting it out and finally closing down operations three years ago. The terms of the sale, which was finalized in December, were not disclosed.

The purchase of the Hilson farm brings to four the number of properties within steps of each other under the control of Bovina Valley LLC and the Livestock Foundation. This includes not only the farm, creamery, and future restaurant, which is to be called Dry Town Tavern, but also an 1840s house next door to the restaurant that will operate in conjunction with the restaurant, offering five inn rooms.

“We wanted to preserve these buildings and make them as good, if not better, than they once were,” said John Finn by phone. “The idea is to recreate something that existed 100 years ago, yet with a twist—contributing to tourism, entertainment, a place to stay, and value-added dairy products.”

The Livestock Foundation hopes to turn the second floor of the horse barn into an exhibit space devoted to the history of Bovina dairy farming. Photo by Sonia Janiszewski.

A recent tour, conducted by Sonia Janiszewski, the newly hired executive director of the Livestock Foundation, shows progress towards those goals. Considerable work has been done on the creamery, a 1942 brick building that replaced a 1902 wooden one that burnt down. The creamery operated until 1973 and then served as an auction house for many years before being shuttered. Today the building, whose change in ownership was first reported in the Watershed Post last March, has a new roof and refurbished windows. Inside, the vast, high-ceiilinged space where auction-goers used to sit on folding chairs will, once again, be the main production floor. Towards the back of the building, rooms have been created for heating and cooling yogurt and brining and aging cheese.

After the barn's interior is repainted and its plumbing repaired, it will be home to Cowbella's Jersey cows. Photo by Sonia Janiszewski.

The Bovina Valley Creamery, as it will be called, will produce dairy products under the Cowbella brand. Cowbella’s owner, Shannon Mason, whose family’s 200-year-old dairy farm is located in the Schoharie County town of Jefferson, has partnered with the Finns on the venture and will co-manage the creamery with Dan Finn. According to Mason, the facility will make butter, bottled milk, 2 percent Greek yogurt, full-fat cream-top yogurt, drinkable yogurt, mozzarella, parmesan and other part-skim Italian hard cheeses. Dan Finn will produce his acclaimed tome-style Alderney cheese there as well. Members of the public will be able to visit the facility and learn about dairy production while peering in through a big plate-glass window overlooking the action—a butter-molding machine shaping butter into blocks and other machines filling bottles with milk and cups with yogurt.

While work continues on the creamery, the Livestock Foundation’s dairy barn will be put in working order. Once everything is up and running, Mason will transport 40 of her Jersey cows to be housed in the barn and graze on the land, paying rent to the Livestock Foundation.

“I won’t have to transport milk from Jefferson,” she said.

The goal, she added, is to use all the milk from her cows and Dan Finn’s cows in the Cowbella products. If the milk from their cows can’t meet demand for those products, they will buy milk from “other like-minded small farms that graze around the area—and pay them what they should be paid for their product,” she said.

The dairy barn was built in 1929. Photo by Sonia Janiszewski.

Just as visitors will be able to visit the creamery, they eventually will be able to tour the farm, says Janiszewski. She hopes that by next year there will be a space in the horse barn next to the dairy barn with exhibits on the history of dairying in the Bovina area, organized with the assistance of Bovina historian Ray LaFever. In an email LaFever noted that in making renovations to the Bovina buildings the Livestock Foundation and the Bovina Valley LLC are being “very sensitive to the history of these buildings as they make them functional for Bovina in the 21st century.”

Tom Hilson, for one, is happy with the plans for his former farm. “What I feared was going to happen was that the buildings would slowly deteriorate,” he said. “I’m overjoyed that someone wanted to use it as a dairy farm again.”

Hilson farm buildings, possibly in the late 1930s or early 1940s, with Archie Hunter, an employee. In the background is the house that will have inn rooms and operate in conjunction with the Dry Town Tavern. Photo courtesy of the Hilson family.

Bovina Creamery being brought back to its roots

New ownership reviving piece of town’s history

By Lillian Browne, 9/7/2016

Source: Catskill Mountain News (link)

To sustain a viable business, dairy farmers have recognized the need to diversify. Today’s farmers realize that the dairy market has changed and, in Delaware County, that is especially noticeable. At one time, Delaware County was known for its expanse of dairy farms and other forms of agriculture, but today the number of dairy farms has dwindled.

Some of those remaining have managed to craft a niche market by offering value-added products such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and other milk-based products.

Seeing a demand for those value added products and having the experience of operating a small organic dairy farm has inspired Delaware County natives John and Dan Finn, brothers, to overhaul and re-open a once flourishing creamery in one of the county’s smallest towns - Bovina.

The brothers are partners in Bovina Valley Farms, LLC which is an umbrella for Dan’s artisanal cheese-making business where he makes Alderney, a tomme style cheese.

Grew up in Bovina

The brothers grew up in Bovina in the 1970s and attended nearby Delaware Academy in Delhi as students. They don’t remember the former Bovina Creamery being open - it closed in 1973 - but they distinctly remember that dairy farming was the only industry in Bovina. In 1970, John said, there were approximately

27 dairy farms in Bovina. Today, there are only two.

John had already acquired the former Hilson’s General Store in 2015 when the creamery property came on the market. He purchased the creamery with a vision of restoring Bovina to the community he knew as a child.

The creamery is currently being retrofitted to process milk and to produce yogurt and cheese. That is being done with input and guidance from Shannon Mason, owner of Cowbella dairy products in Jefferson, another key figure in the operation.

Mason has outgrown her own processing facility and by joining forces with the Finns is responding to increase demand for locally produced dairy products. Mason, Finn explained, has a market connection, which will allow Bovina Creamery products to distributed regionally.

Early projections for a fall 2016 were optimistic and the creamery is now expected to open in spring 2017.

And that’s not all

The creamery is not the only business John Finn is bringing to Bovina. The former general store is being reshaped into a restaurant and inn with hopes of capturing the ever growing tourist market. “Bovina is such a quaint town, off the beaten path and with the proximity to New York City, I believe we can capitalize on it,” he said.

He said his plans will not hurt business at Brushland Eating House, which opened in the space formerly occupied Two Old Tarts, now located in Andes. “They are happy we are doing this. A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said of his perception that there is a large enough market for everyone to benefit from tourist dollars.

Dry Town Tavern, the name of the forthcoming restaurant, is expected to open late-spring 2018. The inn, which will be located in the same building, will open during the first fiscal quarter of 2017.

More projects

The final piece of Finn’s plan to help re-boot Bovina’s microag economy is to acquire the former dairy farm between the creamery and the former general store through a not-for-profit livestock foundation with the vision of preserving rural life in Delaware County through educational and outreach programs.

A search for an executive director for the foundation is currently underway and the farm property is expected to be acquired this fall.

Once all facets of the plan are in place, Finn says visitors will be able to stay at the inn, eat at the restaurant, and visit the creamery and farm as part of a true agritourism experience.

Work is ongoing. The falling down boiler room behind the creamery has been rehabbed, windows and roofs have been repaired and replaced, a new floor is being poured, the parking lot is being resurfaced and the general store is being raised for repair. Cheese aging rooms, or caves, are also being outfitted.

Area background

Finn said growing up in the area has given him an edge in marketing the traditions of the region. But, he said, he is not just investing in family; he is investing in Delaware County.

He has leveraged start-up business risks with dairy farmer work ethics, a current tourist market that make all-things- Catskills trendy and a desire to give a sleepy town an economic boost.

The only concern Finn has is whether he will be able to find enough employees for the triad. “I look at that as a good problem and a great opportunity for the area,” he said.

Indiepay Expands Los Angeles Office

LOS ANGELES, CA – 6/29/2016 Article source

Indiepay, the fastest-growing provider of payroll, financial and tax credits services to the film and TV industry, announced today that it has expanded and relocated their LA office. Indiepay is now located at 11835 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90064. The new phone number at this office is (310) 789-2001.

“Indiepay’s continued growth and demand for our solutions have enabled us to expand our operations. This will provide our California clients with better access to the personalized service we are known for,” said Dave Reynolds, President of Indiepay. “While most of New York knows us, we have still have work to do in California. There is a misperception that we only do small independent films; in reality we are much bigger than that.”

Joining the LA team, Cheryl Esser, VP, Application Sales & Support, will be relocating to the LA office from NY.

Cheryl leads the client support teams and works with top studios and network accountants to realize the advantages of Indiepay’s technology. A former accountant and tech entrepreneur, Cheryl is Indiepay’s most sought-after product expert. “We enjoy building products that truly make the job of production accounting easier and smarter. If we can turn our clients 12 or 14-hour day into 10…that’s a big deal! I know; I’ve been there,” said Cheryl.

Complementing its sales efforts, Indiepay has also added Sean Gearin, VP, Business Development, to the team. He will serve as the West Coast sales lead under Paul Cosentino, SVP of Sales. Paul Cosentino added, “We aim to provide film and TV executives with exactly what they need: the best service, software solutions and complete transparency, so they can run their business better. At Indiepay, that’s what we do. We are highly consultative and when there is money to be saved, we help our clients understand their options and customize our solutions to meet their needs. I’m excited to have Cheryl and Sean in LA to help clients take advantage of our offerings. They round out a very impressive roster of talent.”

About Indiepay Indiepay is the fastest-growing provider of payroll, financial and tax credit services to the film and TV industry. Indiepay serves a wide range of feature films and scripted television programs, with television clients such as Gurney Productions (Duck Dynasty), Left/Right (Mob Wives), Eastern TV (Love & Hip Hop), and Jax Media (Inside Amy Schumer), and a feature film portfolio including Carol, While We’re Young, Top Five and more.

Indieware, Indiepay’s proprietary software, was designed by an expert team of production accountants to meet the unique needs of film and television cost accounting. Indieware provides an intuitive, easy-to-use solution for production accounting.

Indiepay was established in 2005 and has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans and Delhi, NY. Paul Cosentino is SVP of Sales and Business Development and can be reached at Paul(at)indiepayroll(dot)com.

Former Bovina Dairy Co-op to again become a creamery

Piece of history being modernized for new venture

By Brian Sweeney, 3/23/2016

Source: Catskill Mountain News (link)

A return to the past will get underway in June new owners begin the task of returning the Bovina Creamery to its original use.

Calico Holdings completed the purchase of the creamery building in early March and plans call for construction of the “new” creamery to get underway in June.

Bovina residents John Finn and Wendy Buerge are the principals in Calico Holdings. John’s brother, Dan, is also expected to be part of the new venture.

Wendy, who serves as senior vice president of operations for the company, told the News that plans for the building are still being formulated and that it’s premature to release a lot of details until agreements are in place with other parties.

“The plan is to revitalize the building and convert it back into a creamery,” she said.

They expect the renovation work to start before summer and be completed before year’s end.

Restaurant in the future

Reestablishing the creamery is the top priority for the Calico Holdings partners, but Wendy said the company has also purchased the former Hilson’s Store in Bovina Center and they plan to turn that building into a restaurant. She said that project is down the line a bit.

“There are lots of exciting things happening,” Wendy stated.

The 5,000-square-foot creamery building had been owned by the McIntosh family for more than four decades. The Bovina Center Co-Op Dairy, as it was known, had opened in the early 1900s and ceased operation in 1973.

The current brick building was dates back to 1942, when it replaced the original 1902 wood- en structure, according to historical records. When purchased by the McIntosh family, the building soon took on new life as the home of McIntosh Auction Service. The McIntoshes operated in Bovina from 1975 until relocating to Margaretville in 2001.

Chuck McIntosh, who operates the auction business with his brother, Roger, said he’s thrilled to see the historic building being put into use once again.

“We are very pleased that two local boys are coming in here to start a business.

We’re happy that they are fixing the building up to make it a viable business. We wish them all kinds of luck and we’ll be supporting them,” Chuck commented.

“It’s going to be good for the community,” he added.

Bovina creamery sale sets the stage for dairy revival

By Jane Margolies 3/4/2016
Source: Watershed Post (link)

When the Bovina Center Co-op Dairy, better known as the Bovina creamery, was shuttered in 1973, it was a sure sign that the Delaware County town’s best dairying days were over.

After seven decades during which local farmers transported their milk to the building on Creamery Road in Bovina Center—first by horse-drawn wagon, and then by truck—the clanging of cans that one local has described as “the background noise of town” was silenced.

But now, in a development that has been rumored for months, the building has been sold to new owners who plan to reopen it as a creamery in a bid to bolster the burgeoning small-scale dairying enterprises in the Delaware County Catskills.

Calico Holdings, a company owned by John Finn, officially closed on the creamery on Friday, March 4. The seller was the McIntosh family, which has owned the creamery for over four decades. Finn is the founder and CEO of Indiepay, a company that handles payroll and accounting operations for companies in the film and television industry and has offices in Delhi.

“We hope to have the creamery up and running by late fall 2016,” Finn said in an email.

The division of Calico Holdings that will operate the creamery is called Bovina Valley Farms. That is the name that the new dairy enterprise will go by, at least for now, Finn said.

News of the plans for Bovina’s creamery comes on the heels of a related development in nearby Andes: Dirty Girl Farm, a goat milk dairy, is moving ahead with plans to purchase and relocate its creamery to the farm buildings across from the Andes Town Hall—another sign of the resurgence of small-scale dairying in rural Delaware County.

Above: Photo by Jane Margolies.

The brick creamery building that Calico Holdings has purchased in Bovina was constructed in 1942. It was a replacement for a wooden building erected in 1902, according to Bovina Historian Ray LaFever.

The creamery first produced butter and then powdered milk. During World War II, it made dried eggs under a contract with the federal government. According to LaFever, the Bovina creamery was always a co-op—run by the farmers who brought their milk there in metal cans.

When the dairy industry shifted from cans to more expensive bulk tank equipment, the farmers voted to shut the Bovina creamery down, just as other small-scale farmers who couldn’t afford to make the switch were forced to do across the country.

The McIntosh family purchased the building and for many years Roger and Chuck McIntosh operated their auction business out of the creamery, holding popular Saturday evening sales. In the big, high-ceilinged space, dusty framed pictures and deer-head trophies adorned the walls above rows of folding chairs. People bid on a parade of farm implements, antique furniture and household items, fanning themselves with their bidding cards in summer.

Chuck McIntosh’s wife, Betty, signed people in from a tiny room near the entrance, opposite the snack bar, while her husband sat on a platform at the front of the room and served as the auctioneer and congenial master of ceremonies, joking and often cajoling the audience into bidding a dollar on cardboard boxes of assorted junk.

In 2002, the McIntoshes moved their auction business to Margaretville.

“No one thought the creamery would ever operate as a creamery again,” said Chuck McIntosh in a phone interview.

When John Finn, who was raised in Bovina and graduated from Delaware Academy, began discussions with the McIntoshes about the idea of buying and reviving the creamery, processing milk was no longer even a permitted use under Bovina’s town zoning.

But the McIntoshes made the case for a variance before Bovina’s Zoning Board of Appeals and secured it this past fall, clearing the way for the plans to proceed.

Under the terms of the contract of sale, the McIntoshes had to empty out the building, which they had been using as storage space. The family held a series of auctions there in the fall, until the weather got too cold, and recently they began to include items from the creamery in their Margaretville sales.

According to Finn, the creamery building will need a new roof, windows and a HVAC system. While he says his plans are still in development, he expects to enlist other investors in the enterprise and hopes that Bovina Valley Farms will produce cheese, butter, yogurt and bottled milk. Finn’s brother, Dan Finn, who makes a widely acclaimed Alderney cheese from his organic dairy farm just over the border in Delhi, will process his cheese in the creamery building.

“It’s nice that it’s going to be a creamery again, and it’s nice that it’s two local boys who are doing it,” said Chuck McIntosh.

But first, the McIntoshes have to finish clearing out the place—an effort that has produced some interesting finds. Roger McIntosh recently unearthed an old camera and a box of negatives of historic town photos. Chuck McIntosh, recognizing their historic value, brought them to Ray LaFever, who has been posting selections on his Town of Bovina Historian Facebook page. Among the finds is the early 1940s picture of the creamery, probably taken by James Hilson, below.

Below: A 1940s image of the Bovina creamery, probably taken by James Hilson. Image via the Town of Bovina Historican Facebook page.


Delhi, NY 3/1/2016
Source: The Watershed Post

Get a seat out on Main Street for the 6TH Annual St. Paddy’s Day Parade @ noon. Floats galore, Irish Pipe Band, and lots more to see. Come down to the Shire afterwards and partake in some comforting Irish dishes, you might want to even enjoy a glass of Guinness or kick back a shot of Irish whiskey. The Quinn Brothers are here @ 1pm with sounds from the motherland and the pipe bands continue to play, marching their way through the pub. Esquela hits the mic from 5-9pm. Top O’themornin’ to ya!!!


Indiepay Asks for ‘Transparency’ in Payroll Rates at Realscreen Summit

New York, NY (PRWEB) January 29, 2016

Indiepay, the fastest-growing provider of payroll, financial and tax credits services to the film and TV industry, today announced the launch of a new marketing campaign titled “Transparency.”

The campaign is set to be launched at the Realscreen Summit this week in Washington D.C., the global conference for the business of unscripted entertainment (, #Realscreen16). Indiepay’s campaign prompts industry executives to ask why they’re being charged maximum rates for State Unemployment Insurance (SUI).

The campaign features a front cover ad on the Summit’s delegate handbook with a provoking headline “Your payroll rates shouldn’t be a shell game.” This theme is continued in social media, in-conference activities and digital messaging at

Indiepay CMO Paul Sewards explains, “Our strategy is to create awareness of SUI over-charging by our direct competitors. We believe this strategy will create a new level of ‘transparency’ at the time of pricing and provider evaluation. Ultimately, this can only help industry leaders reduce costs and enable production companies to produce better content.”

The campaign is a revised brand positioning that seeks to establish Indiepay as the new provider of choice for fresh, innovative and disruptive content creators. "The new brand messaging, expressed through engaging imagery and the line ‘Refreshingly transparent’ will help define our voice within the cluttered competitive space,” Sewards adds.

The campaign is supported by an integrated media investment and guerilla activity, including the performance of a magician at the Summit who will entertain delegates with sleight of hand and the art of illusion.

Paul Cosentino, SVP of Sales adds, “Film and TV executives should demand transparency from their payroll providers. The more people know about SUI rates the better. Reduced SUI rates can deliver significant savings on budget labor lines and we’re uniquely the only provider who doesn’t charge the maximum allowed SUI rate.”

Cosentino continues, “Our competitors still continue the practice of charging the maximum SUI rate, whereas we only charge the minimum rates required by states.”

This campaign is the first for new CMO Paul Sewards and represents a shift in approach for the brand, as it looks to build on a record year of growth in 2015.

About Indiepay:

Indiepay is the fastest-growing provider of payroll, financial and tax credit services to the film & TV industry. Indiepay serves a wide range of feature films and scripted television programs, with television clients such as Gurney Productions (Duck Dynasty), Left/Right (Mob Wives), Eastern TV (Love & Hip Hop), and Jax Media (Inside Amy Schumer), and a feature film portfolio including: Carol, While We’re Young, Top Five and more.

Indieware, their proprietary software was designed by a team of production accountant to meet the unique needs of film and television cost accounting. Indieware provides an intuitive, easy-to-use solution for production accounting.

Indiepay was established in 2005 and has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans and Delhi, NY. Paul Cosentino is SVP of Sales and Business Development and can be reached at paulcos(at)myindiepay(dot)com

Press Contact –Roxy 212-206-1099 roxy(at)myindiepay(dot)com

Payroll Company Indiepay Wins Inc.'s Battle of the Bands

Payroll Company Indiepay Wins Inc.'s Battle of the Bands

Indiepay founder John Finn can now add "award-winning band frontman" to his resume.

The CEO of the entertainment payroll company led his band "Esquela" to the championship at Inc.'s company battle of the bands on Saturday. The competition, called The PlayOff, and held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, featured eight company bands from around the U.S.

Washington D.C.-based Excella Consulting, a six-time Inc. 5000 company, took home the third place prize for its band "Detached Retina."

Here are the other companies that walked away with musical accolades.

  • 1st place: Indiepay's "Esquela"
  • 2nd place: Erie Insurance Group's "Above All In Volume"
  • 3rd place: Excella Consulting's "Detached Retina"
  • Best guitarist: Patrick Rasche, Excella Consulting's "Detached Retina"
  • Best drummer: Jonathan Bruskin, Excella Consulting's "Detached Retina"
  • Best bass player: Chris Roy, Mattel's "The Toys"
  • Best vocalist: Crystal Waters, Erie Insurance Group's "Above All In Volume"
  • Best horns: Tony Yocco, GE Aviation's "Title 14"
  • Best keyboardist:  Steve Cooper, Excella Consulting's "Detached Retina"