Palm Beach County residents have a lot of options when it comes to buying organic produce and goods, from veggie stands and community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares, to one of several grocers catering to the health-conscious shopper.
The missing link, however, is the hidden figure behind each label. Even when consumers purchase from a hometown farm stand, it’s nearly impossible to meet the person who does the picking, foraging, packing and labeling. And that is especially true when it comes to livestock. That is, of course, unless you live within driving distance of Jupiter Creamery on West Indiantown Road.
Situated on a pothole-covered dirt road west of Mellen Lane in Jupiter Farms, Jupiter Creamery is the quintessential microdairy—cozy, clean and convenient. Owner and dairy farmer Suzie Dudas has been selling raw milk and its accompanying products (from butter and buttercream, to kefir and cheese) since 2006, when she realized something was missing from her food-purchasing experience.
“I wanted to be able to meet my farmer,” Dudas said. “I think you should be able to walk out and see the cows and see where your food comes from. That’s what started us off.”
That initial desire began a decade-long journey for the former pastry chef and Philadelphia native.
“It was a soft start,” Dudas recalled of her first few years in business. “I wanted to [raise beef and dairy cows] for our own consumption, but then I started having four gallons of milk a day to deal with.”
Now, the 10-acre farm is home to four dairy cows and their calves (a mixed herd of Jersey, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Norwegian Red cows), all of which are grass-fed and raised without hormones, antibiotics or steroids.
The milk is run through a strainer and stored in sterilized half-gallon mason jars, a system that produces what is referred to as “raw milk” (that is, milk that hasn’t been pasteurized).
Jupiter Creamery products range from $6 for a quart of buttermilk and $8 for a half-gallon of milk, to $12 for six ounces of cultured salted butter and $15 for a pint of cream.
While laws regarding the sale of raw milk vary from state to state, it is permitted in Florida as long as the products are labeled “raw” and “not for human consumption.”
“I’m really happy that we’re able to sell raw milk,” Dudas said, “But you need to be responsible for what you’re buying. You need to know where your [raw milk products] come from.”
To help her customers get a sense of her farming practices and procedures Dudas, her husband and two children invite the community to attend “Scrub-a-Cow” or “Cow Wash” events, both of which take place throughout the year and bring upward of 300 people to the farm. Visitors can meet, feed and wash or groom the herd, purchase products and meet the Dudas family.
“We were really just trying to let the public know that we’re here, but I didn’t realize how many people have never really touched a cow or been on a farm,” Dudas said of the social media hype surrounding her events. “I walk them out to the field, and the kids are like, ‘Where are the cows?’ They just don’t know what they’re looking for.”
Dudas hopes the local support and reaction to her farm will make more people want to join in on the growing microdairy trend.
“I want other people to have cow farms,” she said of her desire for locals to use the land available in Jupiter Farms and Loxahatchee. “I don’t know if I could milk more than three or four cows in a day. I want someone else to do this as well.”
And if you’re wondering how Dudas manages with the herd she currently has, just take a drive to the farm and see for yourself.
“I enjoy making the cows part of the family,” she said. “I milk them between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., depending on when I wake up and depending on who wants to be fed first, the children or the cows.”
18591 131st Trail N., Jupiter; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; 561.260.1609; firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Tracy Marcello