Rural Missouri - May 2022 - 22

RM | NEIGHBORS
Handcrafted cheese, milk and more in Purdy
by Heather Berry | hberry@ruralmissouri.coop
T
he dull clang of a cowbell rings in the spring
breeze. While cowbells used to help farmers locate
their cattle, these bells chime as the employees of
Edgewood Creamery arrive to start their day.
When Kelli Stephens purchased Edgewood Creamery
in Purdy from longtime dairy farmers Charlie and Melissa
Fletcher, cows were not new to her. She had raised
replacement heifers for multiple dairies for several years.
Coming from a family of farmers, Kelli came to the creamery
business with a well-rounded skillset.
In 2017 the Fletcher family decided to sell the business.
" I couldn't bear to see the creamery close so I bought
it, " Kelli recalls.
At that time, she was running nearly 500 beef and
dairy cattle on her own.
So Kelli reinvented the creamery business, contracting
with local dairies for the milk she now uses to create a
delicious line of artisan cheeses and more.
" My kids were getting older and I knew I couldn't manage
all that and run a creamery too, so I sold most of my
herd and began working with nearby farmers who were
willing to raise the cattle the way I required, " says the
Barry Electric Cooperative member. When she's not at the
22 RURAL MISSOURI | MAY 2022
creamery, Kelli teaches educational psychology at Crowder
College in Cassville.
The cattle are on rotational grazing systems which
is good for the cattle and the land. Every 12 hours the
animals are moved to a fresh pasture of grass, allowing
the cows to eat the most nutritious grass possible for milk
production.
" I pay a premium and the dairy farmers provide a
premium product, " says Kelli. " By working together, we're
able to help many families stay on the farm, which is a
win for us all. "
She and manager, Michael Nash, stop by the contracted
dairy farms weekly to check on herd health and milking
conditions.
" The cows have to be fed a certain way so our milk will
produce the froth desired by coffee shops we sell to, " Kelli
adds. " Attention really is in the details in this business. "
These days, the creamery is all about bottling milk
and making handcrafted cheese. Their line of cheeses is
well known in southern portions of Missouri and northern
Arkansas and gaining popularity with gourmet and
farm-to-table eateries. Edgewood Creamery's cheese line
includes their signature Ozark Mountain blue, sharp and
mild cheddars, farmhouse original and fromage blanc (a
cream cheese) in Plain Jane or Milk and Honey fl avor.

Rural Missouri - May 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2022

Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2022 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - May 2022 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - May 2022 - Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2022 - 4
Rural Missouri - May 2022 - 5
Rural Missouri - May 2022 - 6
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Rural Missouri - May 2022 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - May 2022 - Cover4
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