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Stan Poncia, owner of Terrilinda Dairy, can trace his family history of dairying in the North Bay back to the early 1900s when his grandfather and two brothers first arrived in West Marin County. They were hard working immigrants who came to the U.S. from the Lake Como area of Northern Italy, and settled in the remote back country near Dillon Beach.
At one time, there were six family owned Poncia dairies in the area, but today Stan is the only remaining member of his immediate family still operating a dairy. His mother was a San Francisco native, also of Italian heritage, who met his father at a wedding where he was playing the accordion. A year later they married, and settled in Bloomfield on a ranch owned by his paternal grandfather.
Around 1939 his grandfather purchased additional ranch property on the outskirts of Rohnert Park which would become the new home base for his parent’s dairy. Stan was one of three children born and raised on the ranch, and he has lived there his entire life.
“Working with cows is all I’ve ever known,” he says, “I’ve always loved it. I started helping out on the dairy in grammar school feeding calves. Then by middle school I’d graduated to milking.”
His siblings eventually left the dairy, and found their own way in life. His brother became a school teacher in Santa Rosa, while his sister and her dairyman husband owned and ran the Aggio Dairy near the Washoe House in Northern Petaluma. Both siblings are now deceased.
In 1970, Stan took the reins of the dairy business and the home ranch from his parents, and became the third generation of Poncias to choose the dairying life. Of his three grown children only middle son, Jon, has returned home to work beside him at the dairy, becoming the 4th generation to follow the family legacy. Currently, father and son manage the dairy herd of Holstein cows. “We seed our pastures with rye grass, and irrigate in the summer months which extends the time our animals are able to graze,” notes Stan. Two milkings each day yield approximately 4,000 gallons of fresh milk shipped to Clover daily. Terrilinda Dairy first joined the Clover family as a conventional producer in 2013, and attained organic certification in 2016.
“Working with Clover has been a good move for us,” says Stan. “They pay producers a bonus for quality, and I want to ship quality milk because that means I’ve got healthy cows.”
Clover’s reputation for excellence has always been a real plus for Poncia. “Clover is a well known and respected company with an established market.” he says adding, “Their producers are the Cadillac of dairies. They only associate with the cream of the crop! I like that they are a family-run operation, and we are a family operation, and our milk stays in the local community. It feels good to be part of a program like that.”