Bayberry Hollow Farm (Remnant of Galeforce Farm)
There are few vestiges of old Provincetown more astonishing and evocative than the several acres of pastureland owned by Martha A. Roderick at the end of West Vine Street, where her parents — Joseph Alves (±1905-1963) and Irene (Raymond) Alves (±1906-1967) — ran the town’s last dairy farm. And in late summer, when loosestrife paints the land purple and the horse stabled there move slowly through the post-and-rail paddocks, there are few sights more romantic. With new housing all around the open acreage, however, it is hard to imagine how much longer this trace of farmland can remain so untouched.
Frank Silva Alves (d 1933), a fisherman and a native of Pico, in the Azores, established the Galeforce Farm at the turn of the 20th century. In its early days, it was one of five dairy farms in Provincetown, meaning that fresh milk was never far from any resident. After his death, the farm was managed jointly for a year by his sons Joseph Alves and Frank S. Alves Jr., but their partnership dissolved in 1934 and Joseph took over. For years, Galeforce delivered only raw milk, as the price of Grade A regulated milk would have been two cents higher a quart. But in 1941, Alves installed stainless-steel pasteurization equipment and began offering, “without a penny extra cost” to his customers, milk that had been heated to 143 degrees for a half hour to kill bacteria. Even before he and his three farmhands pasteurized the product, The Advocate noted, Galeforce milk had typically never exceeded a bacteria count of 4,000 per milliliter (0.03 ounces), against the state-permitted threshold of 100,000 count.
Irene and Joseph Alves had five children: Mrs. Roderick; Capt. Kenneth J. Alves of the U.S. Army, who was killed in the crash of a military aircraft in Korea in 1963 (the intersection of Bradford Street and Shank Painter Road is formally designated Kenneth Alves Square); Robert T. “Deacon” Alves (d 2004), who was the maintenance manager at the Sandcastle Resort; Raymond Alves and Veronica Alves. From 20 cows in 1941, the Galeforce herd had increased to 37 head, Guernseys and Holsteins, by 1952. But that was not the only thing that had increased. Wages in manufacturing centers had risen to such a point that the young men of Provincetown could no longer afford to stay for the low-paying jobs here. And especially heavy rains in the spring of 1952 had ruined about 50 acres worth of feed, Alves estimated. At the end of June, he pulled the plug, announcing in the pages of The Advocate that he was ceasing retail distribution. “We will miss calling on you and, now and then, talking with you,” Alves wrote. “It has been a real pleasure to serve you, and we sincerely appreciate your long patronage.”
Regret ran both ways. The newspaper mourned the passing of “our” dairy farm:
“We have had a warm feeling of kinship for and a proprietary interest in the last dairy farm of our town. The distance between the bottle of milk at the door and the farm from which it came was short and to all of us thoroughly familiar. It was possible to call personally on the individual cows at milking time, scratch their bony foreheads and ignore their stolid indifference, knowing full well that they were there, living a healthy, wholesome Cape Cod existence, entirely for our benefit.
“Or it was most pleasant, of an early evening to stop on the road, when the last golden rays of the sun, sinking into the bay off Race Point, slanted over green covered dunes, and watch those same cows as they took their evening meal, close gathered in the lush meadow below. There they were — in a sense — our cows, starting on our morning’s milk, in an oasis as beautiful as unexpected, out there with the seas all about and on land built by the sea.”
It is still unexpected. It is still beautiful. ¶ Posted 2013-10-18