From Mississippi to South Carolina, working college dairies offer everything from cured cheeses to ice cream.
Southern colleges and universities have special treats on their campuses: dairies and creameries. Colleges with strong agricultural programs share the bounty of their crops and classwork with the public and community. From Mississippi to South Carolina, working college dairies offer everything from cured cheeses to ice cream.
These aren’t just dairies though; students are involved at every step in the processes of the dairies gaining not only educational opportunities, but also experiences in working dairies and creameries. From tours to cold treats, these dairy treasures are favorites of students, staff, communities, and visitors.
Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) began offering white and chocolate milk to the area and campus for the first time a half a century ago. After a hiatus, it’s back again! As part of the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience, Experiential Learning and Research Center, agriculture students work in the Lascassas, Tennessee, dairy center and ensure quality products reach the milk-processing plant inside the campus at Stark Agribusiness Center.
With a production rate of 10 gallons of milk per minute, products are sent to the campus bookstore, nearby mini-marts, and grocery stores. With dairy production back on campus, MTSU looks to expand distribution to other local Tennessee stores.
The MTSU Creamery is located in the heart of the School of Agriculture on MTSU's campus adding to the college’s experiential learning for students interested in dairy science, food service, agritourism and agribusiness. Involved in every step of the production, students deliver milk to the creamery from MTSU's dairy farm. When milk arrives at the creamery, it’s lab-tested, pasteurized, and homogenized before being delivered to campus dining halls and off-campus vendors. MTSU creamery milk carries the Tennessee Milk logo, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s stamp of approval. The MTSU community gives the same approval to the dairy’s products!
Clemson, South Carolina
What is the Clemson ‘55 Exchange Creamery known for? Made through the creamery, the most well-known product is an artisan blue cheese with a unique origin: It was first cured in the Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel.
With increased output, the cheese is now cured on campus in 288-gallon vats before being salted, waxed, aged for six months, scraped, and packed by hand for sale. The name of the dairy itself has a sweet history; it comes from a 1955 class gift.
The Clemson 55 Exchange Creamery isn’t just about the cheese; students have hands-on roles throughout the dairy processes and serve nearly 200 gallons of ice cream a week. Billed as “Where Tradition Flavors the Future," the ‘55 Exchange provides dairy and community flavor through signature Clemson Wild Tiger™ and Classic original offerings.
Lake Wheeler, North Carolina
While screaming for ice cream may be in the rhyme, the Lake Wheeler community howls for Howling Cow Ice Cream made on the North Carolina State University campus. Created from milk and cream on the school’s Raleigh farm, the ice cream is available for students and community.
Primarily known for their State Fair favorite ice cream, all operating costs of the NC State’s Feldmeier Dairy Processing Lab are paid by dairy sales, research grants, and educational seminar fees. The addition of a full-service Creamery Café and Dairy Education Center helps increase the ability to both educate and enhance teaching and outreach capabilities. Visit the Howling Cow Dairy Education Center and Creamery to learn more about the North Caroline dairy industry and to cool off with a sweet dairy treat.
Bowling Green, Kentucky
In the hills of Kentucky, the Hilltopper Creamery makes and sells 250 pounds of cheese a month from milk produced on-site at the Grade A dairy on Western Kentucky University’s 800-acre farm. Students participate in every step: from the care and milking of the dairy herd to production, packaging, marketing, and sales of dairy products.
Try and buy their award-winning cheeses today at the WKU Farm Market or order online; options include a broad range of cheeses such as Fresh Cheese Curds, Colby, Smoked Cheddar, and Jalapeno Pepper Jack. The WKU Farm Market is open Monday through Friday, and free local delivery is available every Friday for those who live in the Bowling Green area. Nationwide shipping is available from November to April.
Cheese production at Mississippi State University began in 1938 and has been a time-honored tradition since. As demand for the university’s signature Edam cheese grew, the department was making 2400 Edams a year by 1963 and now, 50,000 balls of Edam are made each year. Production increased with other cheeses added, including Cheddar, Vallagret, jalapeno pepper, and two types of cheese spreads.
Cheese production is not all the bulldogs are known for. The university’s award-winning dairy provides milk for the production of ice cream, butter, and fluid milk, in addition to the best farm-to-table cheeses available.
MSU Animal and Dairy Science and Food Science students play an important part in the success of the MSU cheese program. The operation provides a self-supporting, semi-commercial laboratory for hands-on learning and research. Students, teachers, administration and staff consume dairy products made on the MSU campus; the Custer Dairy Processing Plant manufactures all milk products, ice cream and butter for the MSU campus.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT), and the UT Institute of Agriculture are bringing back a “Scoop of Tradition” with the opening of the UT Creamery in Spring 2023. This one-of-a-kind, hand-scooped ice cream destination is spearheaded by the generous support of two university alumni and co-founders of the nationally acclaimed Cowgirl Creamery, Peg Smith and Sue Conley. The Creamery is a throwback to UT’s history when a UT Creamery served students, faculty, staff, and the community from 1915 to its closure, driven by economic issues, in 1989.
Today’s UT Creamery will be fully operated by students through a partnership of the UT Herbert College of Agriculture’s Department of Food Science and the Rocky Top Institute of Retail housed in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences’ Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management.
The UT Creamery’s purpose is to provide students with experiential learning related to their fields of study while also offering the campus and community premium dairy products and a wide-ranging choice of merchandise in a connected gift shop. Depending on their roles, students involved in the Creamery will learn modern methods in ice cream production, manufacturing, logistics, product development, retail business, marketing, merchandising, and sales.
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