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Looking Glass Creamery looking good

Editor’s note: The annual Rutherford and Polk counties’ farm tour is being staged online this year. Farms can be visited weekly at facebook.com/ncfoothillsfarmtour/

 

Looking Glass Creamery has turned a well-known local milking operation in Columbus into a seasonal farmstead dairy that is well on its way to becoming a sustainable business selling artisanal cheese, caramel and ice cream made from their cows’ milk.

Jennifer and Andy Perkins were already making cheese in Fairview on the outskirts of foodie Asheville when they bought the 250-acre Harmon Dairy, owned and operated by brothers Doug and Alan Harmon. In order to meet their cheese-making needs while moving away from delivering trailer tanks of raw milk, the Perkins reduced the number of cows they would milk, currently 24.

In the middle of what was once a hay field, they built a retail store and next to that a massive cheese-making and storage cave for the thousands of pounds of their various cheeses. All of that is visible from Highway 9 in the Green Creek community. Visitors to the store can pick from a variety of cheeses, add some other food to their plates and relax on the store’s porch. The store often carries products from other local farms. Their PYO sunflower field is stunning.

Their farming philosophy is as rich as their milk.

They create special events and stage farm tours in order to engage the community and educate people about how food is produced and animals should be treated. In an age that cries out for transparency, the Perkins family is delivering on their commitment to good animal health and welfare while producing healthy, wholesome food. Two of their cheeses made the cover of July’s Our State magazine.

“Through rotational grazing, diversification of livestock as well as using and preserving the bounty of the farm, we are building resiliency,” Jennifer says.

If there is one thing that never changes in dairy farming, whether it’s four cows or 40, it’s the workload.

“It is an overwhelming level of work, time and effort…just to keep up with the status quo,” Jennifer notes. But she and husband Andy, along with their 18-year-old son Maxwell, are hard at it every day.

With the tutelage of the Harmon brothers, they are learning how to be farmers. They deal with the vagaries of equipment and the unpredictableness of livestock every day but still find time some days to unwind on the lawn of their home on a hillside overlooking their herd and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

And on a cool evening after a long day of work, you might find them watching the sun slip behind the mountains as they sink down into their lawn chairs.

“And me,” says Jennifer, “in my pajamas.”

 

Submitted by Larry McDermott