A Closer Look: Thomas Farms of Garland

Written by Kara Petrovic
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The Thomas family owns and operates Thomas Farms of Garland, a 490-cow, 600-acre dairy in Garland, Maine. Partners include Jim and Sandra Thomas, daughter Mary Wilson and son Kevin Thomas. Another son, Terry Thomas, helps with the farm’s crops, while Mary’s husband, Peter Wilson, oversees the farm’s breeding program. The family also employs 11 workers.


Number of years the dairy has been in business. “My greatgrandfather originally purchased the land where the farm is now,” Jim says. “Sandra and I formed a family partnership with our children in the late 80s and eventually turned it into a corporation in the early 90s. At times I’m surprised that my children wanted to follow in my footsteps, because they’re up early and work late. Yet, knowing the farm will remain in the family is a nice feeling.”


Number of replacement heifers the family raised in 2012. “It’s always been my goal to have a younger herd,” Peter says. “While they aren’t ready for milking yet, we view these animals as an investment for our farm as a younger milking herd is easier to care for. “


Age of the tractor used on the feed wagon. “A big part of our success comes from being financially stable,” Mary says. “There’s not much here on the farm that’s brand new. What we do buy, we pay for outright. We have an extremely capable maintenance team thanks to our lead mechanic, Steven ‘Smiley’ Williams. He’s been with us for 14 years and can fix anything.”


Amount the family spent to update their current parlor. “After returning home from college, I kept telling my parents how badly we needed a new parlor,” Mary says. “I explained to them that if we were serious about expanding, that the double-eight wasn’t enough. They finally agreed to take out a loan, and we constructed our current $750,000 double-12 parallel in 2002. During construction, mom was adamant that we’d have the debt paid off as soon as we could, and we did. She paid it off within six years. Now, we are in the process of expanding to a double-16.”