View our Ommering Dairy video tour, including exclusive interviews, at https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1269855082851&set=vb.121848884514514&type=3&theater
By Billy Ortiz
Photos by Pam Wilmers and Ommering Dairy
January 20, 2011 (Lakeside) -- There is something special about visiting a dairy. The sights and sounds, and the people that run the dairies, are very unique. You can't help but think you have taken a trip back in time to an era of a more simpler life.
Since the Ommering Dairy is open to the public with tours and seasonal attractions, you can now step back into the past and enjoy this moo-ving experience.
At one time, dairies were big businesses in San Diego. I feel fortunate to have this one remaining dairy in Lakeside. I have visited most of the ruins of dairies in the the East County and it is quite sad they have all but vanished. Walking amongst the rubble of these long forgotten dairies reminds me of what old San Diego was about:, agriculture and livestock .
Out of hundreds of dairies that once operated in San Diego County, there are only four today: two in Ramona, one in San Pasqual Valley, and one in Lakeside.
Nestled close to the majestic El Cajon (El Capitan) Mountain deep in El Monte Valley in the San Diego River basin, the Ommering Dairy is family operated. Robert and David, the sons of Gerry (Oma) and Gerrit Van Ommering ( immigrants from the Netherlands ) have taken over the business of raising and milking some 250 milking cows producing approximately 1800 gallons of milk per day. They have become very successful at what they do.
In 2007, the economy took its toll on the family business. While feed prices sky-rocketed, milk prices dropped dramatically. The Ommerings' were forced to sell off most of their herd.
Fortunately, their determination to succeed has helped them regain a new herd. Amazingly, out of a dozen or so cows they managed to raise an entire herd once again.
The Ommering dairy has also been able to diversify. Oma's Pumpkin Patch and Spring Time Tours have made the dairy into a popular destination and a learning place for San Diego schoolchildren, who learn learning how to recycle pumpkins and plant the seeds, as well as how milk is produced. The cows themselves are treated well—even sleeping on waterbeds! The Ommering spare no details to the more than 16,000 children which visit each year.
They have also created Oma's Christmas Tree Patch. You can come and pick any size tree out of a bounteous selection.
Recycling is big for them. From the cows’ raw manure, the Ommerings capture methane gas and create electricity to power their entire dairy--plus the processed manure is then used for fertilizer and sold to the public.
I encourage you to take a trip to the countryside in East County and visit The Ommering Dairy.
For more information, visit http://www.omaspumpkinpatch.com and view our video, which includes a video tour as well as an exclusive interview with the Ommerings, at