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Mountain Fresh Creamery ‘one of the bright spots’ in local food economy

Billy Chism 
White County News (GA)

DATE: May 16, 2013

Scott Glover, a fourth generation dairy farmer in White County, is doing business much differently than dairy farmers of the past, including himself. They used to sell all the milk to dairy co-ops.

The decision he and his wife, Jennifer, made to process their own milk and keep it as natural as possible, and to sell this milk locally, is proving to be the right business strategy.

That’s why a group of federal and state officials descended on the Glovers’ milk processing and retail operation, located on U.S. 129 one mile south of the White-Hall county line, last Friday, May 10.

“We’re visiting 13 states (in the Appalachian region) to get a sense of the emerging businesses in the local food economy that have been successful,” said Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal agency charged with helping to create economic opportunities in the 13 states it serves.

He pointed out that the ARC has funded an array of activities involving agribusiness in every Appalachian state, investing $7.6 million in food systems related projects since 2001, from infrastructure to access to capital to export promotion.

“The Mountain Fresh Creamery represents one of the bright spots in the local food economy,” Gohl said.

The group also visited Jaemor Farms in Hall County and Mercier Orchards in Fannin County on May 10.

Mountain Fresh Creamery opened in July 2011 to take advantage of the milk coming from the Glover’s dairy.

Their 60-cow dairy produces 2, 000 gallons of milk a week for the Creamery, with the remaining weekly amount of 1, 500 gallons going to the co-op.

Before they built and equipped their processing operation, located on site at the retail operation, all the milk from the dairy went to the co-op.

“It was all being trucked to a processor in Lawrenceville, where the milk was homogenized,” Glover said. “We still sell into the co-op, but we can now take advantage of our dairy farm being 7 miles from here, and about four times a week ship our fresh milk here to be processed.”

“At Mountain Fresh Creamery, we sell allnatural, non-homogenized milk,” he said. “Our milk is non-homogenized because the fat particles are left whole and much more easily absorbed by the body.” He added: “Our milk is cream-like, the way milk used to be. We are closest to raw milk as you can get, but are one step up. We only heat the milk to a minimal temperature of 145 degrees, in a process called vat pasteurization. This preserves all the taste, flavor and nutrients that milk has to offer.

“And studies have now shown that whole milk is better for you,” he said, “because our product is in its natural state. There’s some real health benefits, and we’ve even found that some people who are lactoseintolerant can drink it.” The Creamery continues to grow in the number of outlets that carry its milk. J&J Foods in Gainesville sells it in all three of its stores, and Adams Foods IGA in Cleveland and Betty’s Country Store in Helen also carry its products.

“Both are locally owned,” Glover said, “and we try to stay in these smaller outlets. We’ve been pleased with our relationship with our wholesalers.” Right now, only whole milk and chocolate milk are being sold in about 17 locations in Northeast Georgia. Of course, the Creamery carries all the milk products, including ice cream that is being processed and sold on site. The ice cream is not being sold wholesale currently.

“Our Creamery has certainly exceeded our expectations,” Glover told the group. “We’ve had a lot of support from so many local people, and we’ve had support from the local paper since we opened.”

But Glover believes some of the best advertising comes from word-of-mouth, through customers who have tasted the product.

“Many hear about us from a friend or a neighbor,” he said.

The best-seller at the Creamery is the whole milk by the gallon (they sell some 1, 000 gallons per week), with ice cream the second best-seller, and chocolate pints right behind. In all, they sell a total of 2, 000 gallons of product per week.

Glover runs the dairy, and has one full-time employee helping him. Today, there are only two small dairies in White County and four dairies in Hall. Some 30 years ago, there were probably 20-plus dairies in both counties, he said.

Jennifer Glover handles the business side of the operation and the front end of the retail outlet. In all, Mountain Fresh Creamery employs a total of eight workers and some part-time.

“Jennifer also has a full-time job as the assistant principal at White County Intermediate School. But she finds time for the Creamery,” her husband said.

Scott and Jennifer have an 11-year-old daughter, Eliza Jane.