Family-owned dairy produces savory milk products for western Tennessee residents

Anna Mary Yoder, of Rock Springs Dairy, sells chocolate milk to Maria Evans, junior TESL major, at Jackson’s Farmer’s Market. | Photo by Victoria Stargel

By Sara Chinery

Visiting the Rock Springs Dairy is an unforgettable experience — from driving down winding country roads while passing signs filled with Bible verses to witnessing Mennonites at work and taste-testing savory milk.

The Rock Springs Dairy pasteurizes milk in a unique way. While regular processing plants heat milk at about 175 degrees for a few seconds, the Rock Springs Dairy heats its milk at only 145 degrees for a longer period of time — about 30 minutes.

Afterwards, it is cooled at 45 degrees and put into glass bottles, which help retain the milk’s natural flavor and smooth texture. About 1,500 glass bottles of milk are processed weekly along with ice cream made from 48 percent cream.

The dairy, which started in Rock Springs, Tenn., was created about eight years ago by Roger Stolzfus, a Mennonite. It has recently changed ownership and relocated to Rutherford, Tenn. The new owner, Leroy Yoder, is also a Mennonite.

Mennonites believe in living simply in a spirit of stewardship toward God and others. However, Leroy Yoder’s wife, Anna Mary Yoder, said “that does not affect the way we pasteurize milk.”

Though Stolzfus owned dairy cattle, the Yoders only have a processing plant. The milk is sent from a farm nearby, which is then pasteurized in a large vat.

When asked what his favorite aspect of owning the Rock Springs Dairy is, Leroy Yoder said, “I like meeting people and working with family.”

Processing milk is an all-day chore that involves not only Leroy and Anna Mary Yoder, but their children as well. Beginning at 2:30 a.m., the eldest son awakens to prepare for the coming day. At 7 a.m., the rest of the family joins and begins the work.

Leroy Yoder said he believes the Rock Springs Dairy’s milk is important “because it has more flavor and more enzymes.”

This valued point makes a trip to Jackson’s Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning or driving to a store near Rutherford worth it.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.