Charlotte Smith, owner of Champoeg Creamery, caught the attention of Handpicked Nation “and because we liked what she had to say we thought an interview was in order.” Highlights of the Charlotte Smith: Champoeg Creamery interview are available below.
You run your own dairy. You champion the goodness of raw milk. What prompted you to become a dairy farmer?
Charlotte Smith: My kids both had developed eczema when they were six years old. A family member mentioned he’d heard that people were using raw milk to control their eczema, allergies and asthma. I’d never even heard of raw milk at that point, but as a mom desperate to try anything to relieve my children’s suffering, I set out to find some. Two weeks after adding a glass of raw milk to our daily diet, my son’s eczema went away completely. My daughter’s took about 6 months to completely subside, but it did, too. We lost our source a couple times those first few years drinking raw milk due to them going out of business, and also, I could not find the quality of raw milk I wanted, so I got this great idea to get a milk cow of my own!
Raw milk is occasionally in the news getting an undeserved bad rap. Talk a little bit about how producing and selling raw milk has benefitted you and your customers.
CS: The health benefits my customers report is endless!! Many people report eczema and allergies going away, arthritis pain lessening or going away, recovery from Crohn’s disease and colitis, and most common, a strengthened immune system evidenced by our family’s rarely getting sick anymore.
My family is extremely healthy – up until 10 years ago we could expect at least one round of antibiotics per person. Now I’ve not had antibiotics in 10 years and rarely get even a sniffly nose. Our health is near perfect!!
Tell us about the procedures you go through to produce the freshest, healthiest milk possible.
CS: We set up each day to milk our cows, bring them in the barn one by one to get milked, pour the milk through a filter into sanitized jars in between milking each cow, and put the jars of milk on ice water for one hour minimum before putting it into the customer fridge.
We have hundreds of safety protocols, too many to list here. Some of the basics, though, are that I use a milk machine, I sanitize with proper dairy chemicals in the proper amounts, I use teat dip to sanitize our cows’ teats, I test our milk monthly for bacteria counts. Additionally, rotating our cows to fresh grass daily is part of our safety protocol. As is sanitizing all the jars and lids prior to milk being poured in.
After milking we clean our barn and equipment thoroughly. We are constantly vigilant making sure the cows are healthy, flies are kept at a minimum, wounds are cared for immediately, and food and water is always available and the highest quality.
You offer cheese-making classes. Talk about how that came about and how your community has responded.
CS: Cheese classes evolved out of selling raw milk and people asking what all they could do with it. I invited a couple people over to make cheese with me a few times, then turned it into a formal actual class on a Saturday. In the early days it was a great way to market our farm and sell our products and augment the milk income, since the amount of raw milk we can produce is so limited in Oregon.
Your farm offers more than raw milk. Tell us a little bit about the other real foods you offer.
CS: We produce grass fed, grass finished Angus beef cattle, also rotated on fresh, tall green grass. We produce hogs pastured on a hazelnut orchard, eating GMO-free feed. And just a few free rangechickens, turkeys and eggs. Our food is amazing – there is nothing like it anywhere, and you can’t buy it in stores. It nourishes, heals, and builds community.