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Variety Boosts Value Of Farm-Based Creamery
Hard times were hitting in 2017 as milk prices were dropping for Gary and Amy Blase, Ethan, So. Dak. Their son, Chad, who’d recently returned home to help with the family farm was determined not to let the family farm fail.
They turned to Laura Klock, who’s an experienced entrepreneur. She gave inspiration to the Blase family by helping them realize Amy’s lifelong dream of owning their own creamery and making their own products. “I wanted to help make this a reality,” Klock says.
In 2018, the family purchased the Valley Side Farm Cheese business about an hour away in Crooks, So. Dak. Blase and Klock received a customer list, equipment, and all of its inventory. They learned to make cheese at the facility with the help of the creamery’s former owner. Meanwhile a renovation was taking place at the farm. Using space in the old dairy barn, they created a cheese aging room and set up a cheese-making room. Within a year, they had their first batch of Farm Life Creamery cheese curds, using fresh, full-fat grade A milk from Blase’s parents 100-cow Holstein herd.
Says Klock, “We’re like the Baskin-Robbins of flavored cheese curds. We’ve come up with 45 flavors of curds so far.” Among those are the original (unflavored curds) and others like Kickin’ Maple Honey and Jamaican Jerk. Farm Life Creamery also has rare, small-batch artisan cheddar flavors like Bloody Mary, Coffee, and Chocolate. Others include the more conventional flavors like Dill, Caraway and Original. Other cheeses they’ve mastered are colby, gruyere and mozzarella. Cheeses are sold in single packages, as a cheese tray assortment or multiples in a gift box.
Their products are sold right on the farm where retail space was added to the original milking parlor. They’re also marketed to grocery and convenience stores and butcher shops along with area restaurants, hospitals and school food services.
The early months of 2020, just before the pandemic, saw excellent sales. With a vision of expanding their capabilities to bottling milk, they applied for a USDA Value Added Producer Grant. That fall the $50,000 grant came through. It allowed them to add space and equipment on the farm to bottle their own grade A whole white and chocolate milk. They were also able to market and ship their products to more stores and expand delivery options through online orders.
Today the Creamery is recovering well from pandemic lows. In the summer of 2021, they hosted a grand opening complete with a full line of products in their retail store. The event featured the debut of their own ice cream as well as a new playground and a mini golf course. They continue to add value to the property and offer farm tours that are fun for the whole family.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Farm Life Creamery, 41053 265th St., Ethan, S. Dak. 57334 (ph 605 999-9824 or 605 999-9414; laura@farmlifecreamery.com; www.farmlifecreamery.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #5