Over 200 Year Ago a Successful Cobbler Bought What is Now Dakin Farm: Timothy Dakin’s Legacy Continues Today
Take yourself back in time and imagine, for a moment, the landscape along Route 7 in Ferrisburgh, Vermont in the mid-1700’s. At the time, Vermont hadn’t been established as an independent state and the land now known as Ferrisburgh was occupied by a small group of Quaker families hardy enough to clear the dense forest and hone the skills needed to simply survive. Timothy Dakin, his wife Lydia, and their children were one of those families. Dakin quickly learned and perfected the art of slow-smoking meats over smoldering corn-cob embers to extend the life of meat and preserve its quality. Today, Sam Cutting, IV, maintains Dakin’s smoking methods and has built a multi-channel retail company based on the principle that tradition and quality must be honored and maintained.
It was in 1792 when Timothy Dakin and his young family moved north from Dutchess County, New York following the Revolutionary War and Vermont’s official recognition as an independent state. Dakin’s motivations for moving north can only be speculated, though many members of the Quaker Religious Movement had settled in the area, providing a community of loyal friends and shared values. It is clear that Dakin, a successful cobbler, had a vision for his family when he chose Vermont – while he had not shared in the patrimony of his father, Dakin had saved enough money to purchase 200 acres of land here, a year’s worth of provisions and still have $2 remaining. Little did he know that with that decision, he established a brand today known internationally for its slow-smoked meats, aged cheddar cheese and pure Vermont maple syrup.
For nearly 150 years, the farm stayed in the Dakin family, eventually home to great-granddaughters of Timothy, sisters Mary and Abbie Dakin. Having never married, Mary and Abbie ran the farm as an Inn for tourists, many of whom were campers at Long Point, and were known for their decadent chicken dinners each Sunday – clearly, delicious food has been a part of the land for a long time!
Another tradition maintained over the years: family. It was in 1960 that Sam Cutting, III brought his young family to Vermont and purchased the current Dakin Farm, then a small road side stand called “Dakin Farm Maple Market.” A fighter pilot for the Vermont Air National Guard, Sam III slowly grew the farm, first with Pure Vermont Maple Syrup, then learning the painstaking process of preparing and smoking ham and bacon according to the original 1800’s recipe. Today, two Smokehouses located at Dakin Farm cob-smoke meat and cheese over the natural smoke, producing a golden bronze color, sweet smoky aroma and flavor beyond compare. Overseeing it all is Sam Cutting, IV, who began working full time at Dakin Farm after graduating college and took over as President in 1992 with the dream of shipping the unique and flavorful foods of Vermont all over the country.
Just three years later, Sam IV embraced the powerful and beneficial changes that came with the Internet. It was 1995 when Dakin Farm launched its first website and was one of 20 companies featured that year by Microsoft as a banner test site worldwide for their new internet shopping platform called “Merchant Server.” Dakin Farm has come a long way since the early years when they maintained customers’ buying habits on index cards in a rolodex!
Sam IV credits the Internet with the growth and the need for a larger distribution center, built in 2003 with the help of the Vermont Economic Development Authority and Small Business Administration. Thanks to the additional capacity, Dakin partnered with Cabot Creamery Cooperative in 2012 to fulfill their e-commerce, mail order, corporate sales, fund raising and call center functions. The $2 million dollar distribution center is capable of shipping 6,000 parcels out a day during Dakin Farm’s important peak season, December, during which time Dakin Farm employs 150 seasonal employees, friends and family to carefully pack and ship Vermont specialty foods to gift recipients nationwide – some even compare it to Santa’s workshop.
What started as a charming, country road side stand is today over 30,000 square feet and home to a USDA inspected meat plant with a second retail location in South Burlington. Customers from Hawaii to Florida to Minnesota to Maine can today enjoy the unique tastes of Vermont, something even Timothy Dakin couldn’t imagine when he bought this land in 1792. What hasn’t changed is the commitment to the strong agricultural standards for producing maple syrup, cheese and smoked meat, set by the earliest Vermont settlers, like Timothy Dakin. Hard work, strong morals and innovation are the cornerstone of the business today as they were over 200 years ago.