June is National Dairy Month!
“We’re still here because they show up.”

In 2007, Amy and Beth Marcoot officially took the helm of their family’s Marcoot Jersey Creamery. The sisters are the seventh generation to raise Jersey cows, tracing back to their Swiss relatives, and their father was the first to turn the family farm into a full-time job. When their parents were ready to sell, the sisters knew that they wanted to take on the challenge of continuing the family tradition, but also that in order to maintain a sustainable business they would have to either become a much, much larger operation or ascertain a way to add value to their product. The sisters chose the latter, and today the creamery offers 20 kinds of artisan cheeses, from their popular fresh mozzarella to a coffee cheddar to some of the only cave-aged cheeses in the area, along with retail and a thriving agrotourism component. Guided tours allow visitors to tour the farm, watch robots conduct the milking process, view the baby calves and see exactly how products are made from start to finish.

Just a couple of years ago, Kristie and Niall were two of these visitors to tour the farm. Impressed by what they saw, the Campbells were instantly on board with the mission of Marcoot Jersey Creamery. Frequent firefly grill guests may recognize the fresh mozzarella Niall chose to use on their pizza and fried curds, but beyond this, Kristie and Niall connected the Marcoots to a distributor as a means for firefly to get their products in an easy and profitable manner. Six months later, Marcoot Jersey Creamery had expanded to several states, and today their products are sent to 220 retail outlets and 350 restaurants across the Midwest.
As 2020 marches into summer, however, the way customers show up for Marcoot Jersey Creamery looks a little different than just a few months ago. The family owned and operated farm lost 85% of their business to changes imposed by the national pandemic, and had to implement a quick pivot from their business plan prior to Covid-19. Agrotourism is currently off the table completely, but the sisters were able to quickly implement curbside pickup. The creamery storefront remains open, with offerings such as beef raised on the farm as well as their own honey and ice cream, local treats, and -of course - artisan cheese. Customers can place an order online and pick it up curbside only an hour later, or up to 10 patrons can visit the store with proper precautions in place. Looking ahead, this option is one that may end up remaining once the business is able to return to all of their daily operations.

It’s important to Amy to emphasize the importance of letting the public know that Marcoot Jersey Creamery, and other local businesses like them, are still available. Many Americans might tune into the nightly news and hear of impending meat shortages. Marcoot comments that while this is largely the case for larger operations, who weren’t prepared to transition when business began to look drastically different, smaller farmers were more easily able to make the pivot to primary retail sales. Marcoot is even seeing an increase in beef sales in the last few weeks. She also remarks on the importance of remembering the people behind the products as well. When customers engage in business with smaller, local companies, they’re supporting people within their own communities who take pride in the quality of their products. Marcoots remarks this is one reason why her family creamery and firefly grill have made such a great team; the emphasis on quality is a driving force of the mission of both.
Perhaps one of the most encouraging signs of better times to come is when businesses are able to take a popular service and continue it on, even if it looks a bit different than before. On June 6th, the creamery will host a drive-thru Cheesefest in honor of their 10th anniversary and to kick off June as National Dairy Month. Guests will stay in their vehicles during the free event but they can tour the farm with their radio, visit animal stations and photobooths, and purchase lunches, cheese, meat and other products. Donations are welcome, but ultimately the Marcoot Jersey Creamery is excited to have a way to celebrate with the guests that have been there for them, give families a way to get out of the house, and remind them to think about the people behind the product. What’s more, she hopes that this situation reminds people to “think about each other and be kind. That’s what Kristie and Niall have done for us.”

Further details about Cheesefest 2020 and visiting Marcoot Jersey Creamery can be found at https://marcootjerseycreamery.com/cheesefest .
Thank you Madalaine McDaniel for the awesome Marcoot Jersey Creamery photos!