By Christine Fernando
Brown-eyed cows peer up from their green pasturelands as a red barn stands in the distance. Beside the barn, waiters carry out bowls of yogurt and boards topped with an array of cheeses in a restaurant overlooking the rolling pastures.
Jane Kunz, co-owner of Traders Point Creamery, said this agrarian charm is part of what draws the community to it. But its dedication to organic farming and sustainable living is what earned the creamery the 2017 Conservation Award from the Garden Club of America, a nonprofit conservation advocacy organization that includes 200 local clubs nationwide.
“When I found it we won, I was in shock,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have a community behind us, supporting our efforts and believing in the importance of what we do.”
Traders Point is an organic dairy farm that produces milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and many other dairy products. Jane also makes her own feed for the farm’s chickens and uses whey from their cheese to feed their pigs.
All the food comes straight from the land and into the farm restaurant, 1,800 stores nationwide and into the hands of consumers.
Yet the key to Traders Point is its grass-fed cows, co-owner Fritz Kunz said. Most farms today feed cows grain to get more milk and increase profits, but grain-fed cows produce milk without the Omega-3 fatty acids of grass-fed cow’s milk.
“You can make more milk and more money, but you lose the nutrition,” Fritz said.
Grass is also more nutritious for the cows, Fritz said, and grass-feeding gives cows a better quality of life by letting them roam pastures instead of being confined indoors.
In 2003 Traders Point opened its doors for the first time, becoming the first organic dairy farm in Indiana. But going first wasn’t easy, Fritz said.
“It’s always hard to go first,” he said. “It’s hard to change and be the different ones and figure things out at first.”
But they didn’t have to figure everything out on their own. Instead, they found inspiration from wild buffalos.
Traders Point uses a rotational grazing technique modeled off of buffalo grazing patterns, Fritz said. This technique conserves pastures while ensuring the cows get as much of the nutritional value of the grasses as possible.
As buffalos poop, pee and spit on grasslands, Fritz said they fertilize them. As a result, buffalos are responsible for the lush prairies in the United States. Now, Traders Point is doing the same thing with their cows to restore fertility to their land.
“There’s a synergy between the grassland and the animals,” he said. “They create an ecosystem that benefits both sides.”
Besides being organic and grass-fed, what sets Traders Point apart is its connection to its community, Jane said. She said Traders Point strives to be accessible to the community by offering tours and a restaurant.
“We’re able to interact with the community and have a conversation about the work that we’re doing,” she said.
Part of that accessibility involves educating the community about the U.S. food system, Fritz said. He said the hardest part of the creamery’s job is competing with billion-dollar businesses that use harmful methods, including feeding cows grain and keeping animals in enclosed spaces.
When people don’t care enough to analyze where their food comes from, they don’t realize why it matters to their own health and to the animals and environment, Jane said. This is why education is so important.
“Ice cream cup by ice cream cup, yogurt cup by yogurt cup, whatever it takes, we want to educate people and make them realize that what goes into their food matters,” she said.
By combining organic farming and grass-fed cows, Traders Point aims to work in harmony with its land and the community around it, Fritz said. And it strives to serve as an example for others who want to follow in its footsteps.
“We hope to be a bastion of greenspace in the world that can inspire people to follow our idea of farming in harmony with our land and our community,” Fritz said. “We want people to care about what goes into their food.”