Your Palmetto State Dairies

There’s a great read in this week’s New York Times Food Section about small, local dairy farms. Of course here in the Palmetto State, we’ve been doing it since before it was cool.

A few dairies stand out in my mind:

Happy Cow Creamery in Pelzer, SC.

Happy Cow Creamery in Pelzer, SC. (Photo courtesy agriculture.sc.gov)

“Happy Cow Creamery is a unique on-the-farm milk bottling operation offering high quality fresh milk directly from its own dairy cows.  Whole Milk, Chocolate Milk, Cultured Buttermilk, and Strawberry Milk are just a few of the products offered…” Close to my old stomping grounds of Anderson, SC (Home of the T.L. Hanna Yellowjackets!) Happy Cow uses a low heat thermalization method for pasteurization. Technical stuff, but for a chef it means it just plain tastes gooooood. At the S.C. Ag expo in Florence last January, my buddy Graham & I were able to get in on that chocolate milk action. There, we also learned that Happy Cow Creamery owner Tom Trantham was named the 2015 SC Farmer of the Year!

  Happy Cow Creamery

332 McKelvey Road Pelzer, SC 29669


864-869-8687 for Tours




Hickory Hill Milk in Edgefield, SC.


“The Dorn Family established at its current location in 1764, the start of a rich tradition of family and farming. Over fifty-years ago, long before anyone had ever heard of mega-farms or agri-corporations, Maysie and Marvin started the dairy farm. It was then passed down to Jim and Marie Dorn who continued raising Holstein cows and producing milk with their sons Jim III, Watson, and Frank. Jim was so involved in the dairy industry that he served on the S.C. Dairy Commission and the National Dairy Board.

Today, Watson and Lisa, along with their children, Daniel and Courtney, work those same Edgefield County pastures. Jim and Marie continue to be active in the farming operations. Together, they bring you Hickory Hill Milk, an exciting new beginning for their family.

Hickory Hill Milk produces old-fashioned whole milk – the way Nature intended. Whole milk and chocolate milk are available for private sale on the farm.”

We use Hickory Hill buttermilk for our biscuits and dressings at the restaurant and lemme tell you what- it’s pretty special! And if you should happen to pick up some of that Clemson Blue Cheese knocking around (I mean, it is kind of famous and all) keep in mind all of the milk for that cheese is coming from- you guessed it- Hickory Hill!

Go Tigers!

Hickory Hill Milk
150 Faulkner Mountain Road
Edgefield, SC 29824

(803)275-6141(828) 388-1708 for tours.



Lowcountry Creamery in Bowman, SC.

Lowcountry Creamery
Lowcountry Creamery, South Carolina & the entire South East’s only vertically integrated dairy. O yeah- and it’s delicious! (photo courtesy Lowcountry Creamery.)

These guys are relative newcomers (especially in comparison to the Dorn family!) I came across their product in the coolers over at Growfood Carolina recently. Jessica, one of the managers, said “O. That’s the stuff we got in recently from Lowcountry Creamery. It’s delicious and you need some in your restaurant!” Jessica was right- it IS delicious. You need to check out what these guys are doing over there. For one, they are the only vertically integrated dairy not only in SC but in the entire Southeast. Vertical integration is pretty much the gold standard in farming sustainability. In short, it means that every element involved with raising that livestock is raised right there on that farm, so no outside sourcing. (Talk about terroir being an expression of the locale???) But as a chef, and most deliciously, their entire herd is composed of Brown Jersey Cows.  How does this translate to flavor? Low yield + high fat content = Delicious!

Sea Island Jerseys

Celeste Albers City Paper

…and then there’s Celeste Albers. Grand Doyenne of SC Slow Food. Practically royalty. Legendary. When I first got serious about cooking, working in Louis Osteen’s eponymous kitchen, I developed a pretty serious Charleston Farmer’s Market habit on my way in on Saturdays. There, I met Celeste as she sold whatever was at the height of the season. She might only have had radishes that day, but you know what? They were the most quintessential of radishes.

20 years later, Celeste applies that same passion to her Brown Jersey Cows that graze in verdant Wadmalaw Island meadows. How does that translate? Deliciously! It’s raw milk, meaning unpasteurized, so we can’t use it in SC restaurants, but you can buy it retail. You can find Celeste’s milk over at the Glass Onion and on weekends at the Farmer’s Market.

Sea Island Jerseys

I could keep going on about even more small family dairies in SC (talkin’ to you Split Creek Farm Dairy! Anderson! Woot! Woot!)

Are there any SC dairies you’re passionate about?


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