Meet Jeroen and Traci van der Ploeg
Jeroen van der Ploeg is an 8th generation dairyman. He and his family immigrated to The States in 2003 from Friesland, a province in The Netherlands.
They began dairying in Clovis, NM and it was Jeroen’s parents’ (Andle and Sjierkje) dream to bring Sjierkje’s homemade yoghurt recipe to the masses.
Jeroen and Traci met in 2011 through a mutual friend while Traci was studying Dutch in Belgium and Jeroen was dairying in Clovis. They met in March and were engaged in December of the same year.
At the time of their engagement, the van der Ploegs were busy building their new business- Freanna Yoghurt. (“Fre” for Friesland and “Anna” for one of their most loved, highest producing cow).
After a few other jobs, Traci began helping with marketing for Freanna and learned a lot about production, packaging and all things dairy promotion- a passion of hers long before she met Jeroen.
They married in 2013 and the adventure began! Building businesses, having children, acquiring new businesses, growth of family, saying goodbye to others and all things in-between.
In December of 2019, Freanna began bottling milk. The van der Ploegs purchased a new production facility for the milk and yoghurt which also has an entire other wing for large equipment repair.
In an effort to market and sell their farm-fresh milk and yoghurt they knew a retail store was the answer. Coffee was also the perfect solution (In 2020, 91% of all coffee-based café beverages were prepared with dairy products.) Andle had purchased the location in Portales and it was converted from a welding shop to The Milkshed (during the pandemic— it took much longer than anticipated!!)
Jeroen and Traci took on the venture of The Milkshed and sought to create an “gezellig” environment for the community of Portales, meaning “cozy—but also describing a situation that is social, fun, and relaxed, or one in which you’re catching up and connecting with old friends, loved ones, or anyone else whose presence and attention you value.”
Fun fact: 90% of the furniture and decor in the store are repurposed from their dairy and the old plant they purchased, and were designed by Traci, Jeroen and their team.
The name was chosen because the definition of a milkshed is “a region providing milk to a particular community”. When Covid hit, the van der Ploegs knew the importance of supplying the community with a steady supply of milk and staples.
They decided to also add Dutch items to the menu and Dutch retail, knowing there is a good Dutch population in the area because of Eastern New Mexico’s dairy population.
They also knew there was a need for a store on the east side who promoted New Mexico goods and to support other small New Mexico businesses.
That has become their mission: to offer their customers a wonderful experience, promote dairy products and support other small New Mexico businesses who have struggled with similar distributing and marketing issues.
When you support The Milkshed, you are supporting a young farming family with three young children. You’re supporting the Portales community. You’re supporting over thirty other small businesses who are mostly local and facing large challenges amidst the pandemic.
It has not been an easy road for the van der Ploegs or the growing of The Milkshed and they foresee a continued uphill climb. They continue to pray for guidance and hope to continue supporting their communities and have a business they can possibly pass on to their children if they decide to take that route.
About the Building
The building was already owned by Andle van der Ploeg, and while beginning the initial steps to create the business, the pandemic hit. In the midst of completely remodeling the building, and converting it from a welding shop to The Milkshed, we faced challenge after challenge. Our initial plan for opening was supposed to be November of 2020, but we were finally able to have our Grand Opening in March of 2021.
Meet The Team
Meet The Milkshed Girls! Pictured from left to right are Charley, Taylor, Becca, Monique, Mattney and Tiffany.
Although we aren’t a full-blown restaurant, and our hours are limited- we want our customers to know that we are striving to make your experience The Milkshed the best it can be. We’re doing what we can to make sure your favorite menu item is available (by buying local when possible) and that you’re always greeted with a warm smile and a clean, comfortable place to hang out.
Our goal from the beginning was to offer an experience that is “gezellig”- a state of coziness and togetherness, a shared sense of joy of spending time together with friends.
Trying to maintain this comfortable, light-hearted and great experience is a lot of work in today’s climate and I want to acknowledge these ladies who have been working so hard to do so.
They’ve each got spunk, loyalty, sweetness and work ethic that make The Milkshed what it is- I couldn’t do this without them.