By Wes Mills
Inside Edge Morning Briefing
Crystal Springs Creamery in Osceola sits where a paved road ends and a gravel path begins.
It’s not far from where the urban bustle of Elkhart County and St. Joseph County speeds by. It’s there where dairy farmer Tim Martin and his family developed an idyllic farmstead and dairy.
“We don’t know what it’s like to live anywhere else,” said Martin, who purchased the farm about three decades ago.
While tranquil, it’s also busy.
The Elkhart County-based creamery is not a standard Indiana dairy farm. While it does milk 300 Holstein dairy cows, it also processes much of the milk on the farm, a business move that launched about five years ago.
“We started in 2017. Then, we had only cheese curds and yogurt in the beginning,” said Martin. “I was just kind of working into it. And then we decided we’re gonna go ahead and do glass milk.”
The creamery has found success by going “old school” and selling milk in glass bottles. “They [customers] like the idea of not putting that plastic into landfill,” said Martin.
The veteran dairy farmer says sales were already growing when the global pandemic struck in 2020. As grocery stores struggled to keep shelves stocked, Martin says new customers discovered Crystal Springs.
“We had a lot of customers coming in right here on farm, pick up their stuff,” said Martin. “They would rather come here than to go to a big box store where there was a lot of other people.”
The business includes a farm store, where customers can purchase ice cream, cheese, yogurt and of course, milk.
But the selection is not limited to white and chocolate. It offers unique flavors, like banana split, cold-brewed coffee, orange cream and root beer.
Crystal Springs seized on an opportunity.
“Crystal Springs is one of a growing group of farms in Indiana that is looking at on-farm processing as an opportunity to diversify, fill a niche in dairy and look ahead to the future to bring consumers to the farm and share their farm-to-table story, “ said Jenni Browning, chief executive officer of American Dairy Association Indiana.
The ADAI and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture recently hosted a tour of several dairy businesses in Elkhart County, including Crystal Springs. The tour included economic development officials and state lawmakers.
“We hear every time that people are amazed by how much Indiana dairy and dairy farmers have to offer- from the brands we buy at the grocery store to the cheese we enjoy from the farmers’ market to agritourism opportunities on dairy farms,” said Browning. “Indiana’s dairy community is strong, and tours, like we were a part of this week, reinforced that to our guests.”
The creamery has a committed customer base that comes to the farm. But it was also able to place its products in Martin’s Supermarkets, a regional chain of about two dozen stores in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.
Crystal Springs is also developing potential new customers by welcoming visitors to the farm.
“We schedule tours every week throughout the summer,” said Martin. “We get a tour and people sometimes don’t know a whole lot [about dairy farming]. But they learn it. We try to explain things.”
Click here to learn more about Crystal Springs Creamery.
The link to the original story from Inside Indiana Business can be found here.