Raw milk is rising in popularity, primarily thanks to increased consumer education on social media platforms like TikTok.
But if you’re looking to sample milk straight from the cow, you’re better off going straight to the source than to your local supermarket.
Clover Creek Cheese Cellar in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania is one of approximately 5,000 dairy farms in the state.
It’s also one of the few places you can purchase raw milk and artisan raw milk cheese.
David and Terry Rice bought the property in the early 1990s with the hopes of running a dairy farm, much like the one where David was raised.
“I grew up north of Philadelphia and it’s basically just growing houses anymore,” said David. “Here they’re still growing crops and having dairy farms.”
Rain, shine, or snow, you’ll find Rice’s 52 grass-fed cows out grazing on the pasture.
“We were feeding them grain for a number of years and then some of our cheese buyers said they would pay more for 100% grass-fed cheese,” said David.
The beta-carotene in the grass helps to give the cheese a rich golden color you might not see in grain-fed varieties.
Anthony, the Rice’s oldest son, runs the cheese-making operation at Clover Creek Cheese Cellar.
During our tour, Anthony showed us the tools they use to make different varieties of artisan cheese, as well as an impressive supply of cheese wheels aging on racks.
“Because it’s made from raw milk, FDA regulations say it has to age 60 days before you can sell it,” said Anthony.
When Anthony graduated from college, he returned to work on his parents’ farm.
At that point, they were selling cheese, but not to the extent that they are selling today.
“We realized, if we decreased our cow numbers and went full-on making everything into cheese, we would be a lot more profitable,” said Anthony.
The Rice family purchased a larger cheese vat to be able to process 2-3 days’ worth of milk at a time and turn it all into cheese.
Their biggest customers are wholesalers and restaurants, although they also sell their products directly to consumers right from their farm.
“We’re counting on people being willing to pay a little bit more for a high-quality product, that is higher in nutrient density and is grown by local people,” said David.
While the Rice family relies on milk and cheese sales to sustain their livelihood, David says they find enjoyment in their day-to-day life on the farm.
“We enjoy doing it for other people and hope they enjoy eating our cheese and drinking our milk as much as we enjoy producing it.”