Small-batch is a big thing these days (and we’re not talking about dinners for two). We’re talking anything that can be made better when it’s done on a smaller and more personal scale, from coffee to craft beer and butcher shops to bread. Now that micro-dairies are on the scene, milk has made the list of foods that have gone local. Here’s what you need to know!
What’s a Micro-Dairy?
Also known as micro-creamery, it’s a small-scale dairy farm run by folks who want to dip a toe into dairy-farming while still having time in the day for other work. If you’ve got as few as four cows, access to about $15,000 and a dream of producing healthy and delicious dairy products, you can be a micro-dairy farmer. For real! And people like you and I are actually doing starting up their own micro-dairy farms.
Just ask Frank Knipe, whose family-owned Maryland-based Micro-Dairy Designs helps would-be micro-dairy owners get their businesses started. According to Knipe, anyone with a passion for producing healthy foods can do it, especially someone who loves storytelling (as in, telling the story of your micro-dairy and why it’s special) and…wait for it…cleaning! Because, as Knipe says, “It’s not possible to make great dairy products if your equipment and facility are not clean! You have to have someone on your team who either loves to clean.”
We may not be ready to open our own micro-dairy, but we’re definitely ready to support our local dairy farmers!
Why We Love Micro-Dairies
- Good for the community: Micro-dairy farming is good for the environment (it doesn’t produce significant pollution). It’s also good for the cows (grass-fed, pasture-raised cows are happier and produce more milk). And it’s good for your local economy, creating revenue while keeping milk local. (To figure out where your milk comes from, here’s a trick we learned.)
- Good for us: Micro-dairy farms produce wonderful organic milk from grass-fed cows and other products crafted from that wonderful milk: butter, cheese, yogurt and, of course, ice cream! (If we’ve got you hankering, here’s a five-star recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream). In addition, micro-dairies are a teaching opportunity for you and your kids. Just as cooking with your kids is a gift so is teaching your kids how food is produced.
Where to Find a Micro-Dairy
Just do a Google search for “micro-dairy” and “[your community].” I did it, and came up with the Dirty Girl Farm in Andes, New York, which makes artisanal goat milk products such as goat cheese. I fell in love immediately because the website has a photo of the mom-and-pop owners, along with their daughter and a goat. It also has a page that directs locals to retail stores where Dirty Girl products can be purchased. A quick search for “micro-dairy California” led me to the Long Dream Farm, a beautiful family-owned and operated micro-dairy farm in the Sierra-Nevada foothills.
When you find your local micro-dairy, put all that amazing milk, cream and cheese to work for a gooey bowl of mac n’ cheese!