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MILK NOT JAILS's video poster

MILK NOT JAILS is a cooperative of farmers and activists launching a new line of dairy products to build grassroots power. Read more

New York, NY Food
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pledged of $22,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on August 31, 2011.

MILK NOT JAILS is a cooperative of farmers and activists launching a new line of dairy products to build grassroots power.

New York, NY Food
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About this project

Eating ice cream every day can actually make the world a better a place with the new dairy brand, MILK NOT JAILS.

The Big Idea:

Rural New York is home to 90% of the state’s prisons, which provide jobs in a depressed rural economy.  Meanwhile the majority of people in prison come from New York City’s communities of color and their families are forced to make long trips to visit them. The guards union and their elected officials oppose major reforms to the prison system because they fear it will destroy jobs in their community.  As a result, New York’s prison system is racist, ineffective, and too expensive. This is not going to change unless we can develop a new economic relationship between urban and rural areas.  MILK NOT JAILS looks to the state’s dairy industry – which comprises 80% of New York’s agricultural sales – for a delicious solution to this conundrum.  Join us in saying, “If rural New York’s economic survival depends on us, we’d rather drink their milk than go to their prison.”

What we are doing:

Over the past year, MILK NOT JAILS has been touring New York State educating people about prison industry economics and asking farmers to join our cooperative.  We host ice cream socials in urban areas to reach out to communities impacted by incarceration, to conduct market research,, and to dialogue about our project.  We have elicited feedback from over 250 dairy farmers and identified a niche market that we can develop.  Over 35 criminal justice organizations endorse MILK NOT JAILS.

Our dairy cooperative has quickly grown from a conversation to a pilot business.  We recently started a milk share program in Brooklyn, where people purchase a milk subscription from one of our partner farms.   We are undertaking a massive outreach campaign to coffee shops, daycares and CSAs to sell milk contracts to these local establishments. We are analyzing over a year’s worth of market research to identify neighborhoods and retailers to sell to. Our farmers have cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream ready to sell once we have our distribution system established!

What we need:

We need two things to turn our business plan into a reality.  First, we need a truck to deliver products throughout New York City (and eventually other cities).  Our farmers will drop off their products at one location within New York City, but we need a way to get this milk to all of the cafes, CSAs, and stores we have established contracts with.  We need a refrigerated delivery truck that can safely transport dairy products.  This truck will also be used as a county fair float and a mobile popular education tool.

Second, we need to print marketing materials – stickers, labels and tags – so that consumers can identify our products on the store shelf.  We have created a buzz in urban centers across the state, and people are anxious to start building an economic relationship with our politically allied dairy farmers.  Help us make this happen.

All contributions are tax deductible.

Your tax deductible pledge also comes with fantastic rewards. Check out the FAQ below for all of the details on our $100 pledge reward - you'll get a great basket of farm fresh products (vegetables, fruit, ice cream, sauces, tinctures and more!) with a market value greater than $100! 

We also just finished our first print run of some of our MILK NOT JAILS patches. Check them out! You will receive 1 of 5 designs at all pledge levels.


  • The basket of goods you receive will depend on how far away you live from our farmers. For people within NY State living within close proximity to our farmers (i.e. within 2 hours drive of NYC, Albany, Syracuse, and/or Buffalo), expect to receive a basket of fresh vegetables from the fall harvest (think kale, butternut squash, turnips, etc.), fresh milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese and ice cream, and some added value products from this year's summer bounties (dried heirloom tomatoes, herbal tinctures, etc.) For those outside of NY State or farther than a 2 hour drive from one of the cities mentioned above, we will be sending a package that can ship safely to you, so it will likely include more added value products.

    Once we complete our pledge drive, we will be contacting you with a list of products that we will have available to deliver to you that you can rank by interest. We will do our best to send you the items that interest you the most, based on the quantities we receive from farms and their proximity to you!

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    67 backers

    Receive a copy of MILK NOT JAILS: A Primer, a screen-printed patch (choice of 5 designs), and a hand-painted thank you card.

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    79 backers

    Receive a FREE pint of ice cream from one of our partner farms and everything above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $55 or more

    46 backers

    Receive a MILK NOT JAILS tote bag showcasing our new logo and everything above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    57 backers

    Receive a basket of farm fresh products from MILK NOT JAILS partner farms and everything above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer

    Receive a singing-ice-cream-cone telegram for any occasion! Plus everything above! (Singing telegram only available for events in the NYC - Capitol Region area or within 90 miles of NYC.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,875 or more

    0 backers

    Receive your own MILK NOT JAILS ice cream social for up to 250 people! You pick the day and location, we’ll bring the ice cream, carnival games, performance and fun! This reward is great for an organization or institution looking to support MILK NOT JAILS. We will throw you an excellent event to turn out your members, donors, staff and/or community! (Reward only available in NY State or within 250 miles of NYC.)

Funding period

- (47 days)