Thanks to Casey Freeman, who wrote about her recent trip to the Homestead Creamery- our favorite milk supplier! She says:
As a family, we've been we've been drinking Homestead Creamery milk for a few years now. We've even managed to adapt to hauling around all those glass bottles and listening to them rattling around in the back of the car. The creamy butter is amazing, and we even enjoy the occasional treat of their yummy chocolate milk.
We do have the good fortune of living just a short walk from Sweet 95, our neighborhood ice cream shop which features Homestead Creamery ice cream. That ice cream is so, so good. If you have tried this ice cream you know how exceptional it is, truly creamy and dense, very reminiscent of old fashioned hand churned ice cream. Other than at our neighborhood shop, we have only been able to find it when we visit grandma's house in Roanoke. Needless to say we are big fans, and I've always been happy to know we have such a good, local source for hormone and antibiotic free milk. With two kids under 5, milk is a major consumable around our house.
So during a recent trip to my mom's in Roanoke, I thought it was time for a visit to the source.
Homestead Creamery is located in Burnt Chimney in Franklin County -- about thirty minutes southeast of Roanoke. A beautiful drive through the countryside takes you to the general store and bottling facility of the creamery. We donned hairnets and joined a local school group for a tour of the faculty by the president and farmer, Donnie Montgomery.
Donnie told all about the bottling process, and we watched the milk-
fresh from the farm's morning milking- being bottled as part of the whole, creamline milk. Donnie described the different lines of milk and the different processes associated with each line. We also watched fresh butter being pressed into molds, saw the giant milk holding tanks, and the bottle assembly line (a favorite of my four year old). We also got to see my personal favorite, the ice cream making machines.
After the tour, Donnie welcomed us to nice benches right outside the creamery for a tasting of the delicious milk, whole cream line, strawberry milk, orange milk and the much anticipated chocolate. Delicious!
We piled into the car and continued the tour -- five minutes down the road to one of the two farms that supply the milk to the creamery.
The kids were able to bottle feed a young calf just recently weaned from his mother, and Donnie described the workings of the farm.
100 cows are raised on grass. In the winter months their diet is supplemented with corn and wheat raised on the farm. As we toured the milking building my son was disappointed we couldnt see the cows being milked... until we realized the first milking is at 4am! Donnie walked us through the milking process and the simple but impressively labor intensive process they repeat twice daily.
During my visit I also heard tell of the Homestead milkman who will deliver all of this bounty to your home in the Roanoke area. Sadly this trend hasn't reached Richmond yet. (I'd vote for it!)
For now, I'm happy Homestead's product is as accessible as it is.
We ended the tour with a great sandwich lunch and, of course, tasting of ice cream. The creamery shop has a nice lunch counter and great variety of ice cream flavors, as well as selling their whole line of products, many other local food products, and local meat as well. And I couldn't resist the coconut chocolate chip ice cream, yum!
This visit was a great opportunity for my kids (and for me) to see where our food comes from, who is making it, and how it was produced. It certainly reaffirmed my feelings about the importance of supporting our local food system while giving my family the best products I can. I left an incredible, rewarding day happy to know we help support this local family farm.