Award-winning Cheese & Living Wages at Chapel Hill Creamery
Chapel Hill Creamery is OCLW’s first certified farm, producing year-round and seasonal cheeses, along with whey-fed pork and high-quality beef. We are honored by our connection to this hard-working farm, which gives so much back to the community, including locally made food, sustainable farming, land preservation – and living wages.
The business began in 2000, after owners Flo Hawley and Portia McKnight left careers in the retail food industry to try their hands at cheese-making. They found a farm with beautiful Orange County pastures and started with a herd of nine Jersey cows, choosing Jerseys for their rich milk and small size. By 2001, they were selling their first cheese at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. Now, they sell throughout the region and state, and even have several out-of-state accounts as well.
In addition to living wage certification, Chapel Hill Creamery claims another important certification: the herd is Animal Welfare Approved. AWA is a meat and dairy product label indicating that a farm employs the highest animal welfare and environmental standards.
The Creamery’s herd of 30 coffee-colored Jersey cows is a “closed” herd. Any new cows come into the herd through breeding and birth on the farm. As the herd size has grown, the selections of cheese have changed and constantly developed.
Chapel Hill Creamery currently offers three primary selections, Calvander, Hickory Grove, and Carolina Moon, with a rotating cast of seasonal varieties. Flo and Portia initially planned to make cheeses seasonally. But good employees and demand for their cheese helped them to move to year-round production. Chapel Hill Creamery cheeses are sold in many local stores, farmers markets, and restaurants. Bill Smith at Crook’s Corner was their first restaurant customer, and other Orange County restaurants such as Provence, Acme, Lantern, Pancuito, and Root Cellar Café and Catering offer either cheeses or meats. “How lucky we are to have these really good local restaurants that want to feature local products,” said Creamery co-owner Portia McKnight.
A pound of cheese requires about a gallon of milk. Cheese-making uses all farm’s milk; there’s none left over for commercial milk sales. Flo says the process goes something like this: “Make it. Age it. Taste it. Tweak it.” As there’s a lot more science, craft, and care that goes into their work, we advise you visit their website for information on cheese-making, along with mouth-watering descriptions of cheese, pairings, and recipes. Find them on Facebook and Instagram for more news and photos, including pictures of the new spring calves.
The farm also offers whey-fed pork sausages and ground beef, and will soon offer other cuts of beef as well. Jersey beef, says Flo, rates very highly for texture and flavor, however, the cut is smaller than a typical American steak. “You’re not going to get a dinner-plate-sized steak.”
Which is all to the good, for both waistlines and taste buds.
For a complete list of Chapel Hill Creamery products, go to www.chapelhillcreamery.com. Look here for sales outlets, or find them at local farmer’s markets (Carrboro, Downtown Durham, Eno River, and the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh), stores (Weaver Street Market and Whole Foods), restaurants, CSAs, and food delivery services such as The Produce Box.
Living Wages and the 2018 Roster
2018 is off to a strong start with six new employers on our living wage roster. As of March 2018, 144 employers in Orange County have certified as living wage employers and raised wages more than $655,000.
Blue Moon Estate Sales specializes in planning, promoting, and conducting estate sales in Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, Pittsboro and Durham.
Hillsborough/Orange Chamber of Commerce is a strong voice for member-business development and economic growth in Orange County.
Mechanical Solutions provides customized water systems in a reliable, cost-effective manner.
Optima Asset Management offers a wide range of financial advisory services for individuals and businesses.
The Piedmont Sundial is a local resource for arts and cultural events and public affairs reporting.
ZimZoom’s photo booth provides hours of entertainment at your next event.
Our complete list of living wage employers includes automotive and construction businesses, restaurants, coffee shops and bars, landscapers and architects. Bring living wage employers your business and your thanks for making Orange County a more vibrant, resourceful, and just community.