The Cruze Family serves up fresh milk and ice cream from their farm with a sweet southern smile.
It seems the current food trend is not about some fancy concoction of items you've never of heard of. It's pretty basic, all natural, farm grown, unprocessed food. And Cruze Farm has been living by this for decades. They keep it simple, which makes their milk and ice cream taste all the more delicious!
"It don't get any better than this," says Earl Cruze.
Earl Cruze cruises out of bed well before the rooster crows.
"Everyday is probably a 12-hour day, some days are 14, 15-hour days," says Earl.
He does have 500 acres, 60 cows, peacocks, and pigs. This is life on the farm. Cruze Farm.
"I started milking cows when I was eight years old," says Earl.
Milking cows is what Earl knows best.
"I joined the Air Force at 18 and at that time it seemed like I'd been milking cows for 100 years," says Earl.
He got out of the Air Force and bought his first piece of property on the farm.
"I had this idea of doing milk when I was real young, but I had nobody to encourage me," says Earl.
But he soon met Cheri and she was on board from the start.
"I told her. I said, 'The scary thing about you is I'll come in with a crazy idea and you'll go along with it'," says Earl.
Together, they have built a local dairy that is all East Tennessee and ice cream has always been a staple.
"Everybody loves ice cream. Anybody that doesn't like ice cream, they're hard to please," says Earl.
"You just don't see people happier than when they are eating a big cone of ice cream on a hot summer day," says Earl's daughter, Colleen Cruze Bhatti. Colleen grew up at the farmer's market.
"While my dad and my brother did most of the work at the farm, I grew up around people selling them ice cream. Because of that experience I just wanted to keep the farm going," says Colleen.
Colleen decided when she graduated college, she was going home to the farm. Her mom told her it wouldn't be easy.
"You've got to work really hard to prove to your dad that you can keep this business going because he has worked so hard, he's not just going to turn it over to you," said Colleen.
But that did not stop her.
"I had a goal and that was to sell all our milk locally that we were milking from our cows because we had a surplus of milk at the time," says Colleen.
She set up meetings with stores and vendors mostly here locally, but some in Nashville and Chattanooga.
"Now we sell all our milk and we actually have a shortage," says Colleen.
And she gave them that farm girl image that's close to her heart and is now as much a part of the farmer's markets as the fresh fruits and vegetables.
"If I'm going to work every day all day long, let's have some fun while we do it so I got some dresses and the girls who were working with me, we put them on and said let's make this our uniform," says Colleen. "We try to make it glamorous, but in all honesty, farming is just hard work and it's a lot of dirt and a lot of sweat, but it's all worth it."
The product is truly like none other. Creamy, fresh, delicious.
"We try to do very little to change milk. We just try to keep it in its perfect form because milk is perfect just the way it is," says Colleen. "There's a lot of love and care and attention into the products. We're not trying to grow, we're just trying to maintain, keep really high quality milk products."
But they have gotten national attention from publications like Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, Garden and Gun, even the New York Times.
"It's really turned out better than we ever dreamed it would," says Earl.
"For me this has been a dream come true. I get to work with my parents. I love being around them every day and I get to carry on something they worked together on for 30 years," says Colleen.
Cruze Farm, an East Tennessee tradition, much like the buttermilk itself, made and served with a sweet southern smile.
"Can you think of a better place than East Tennessee, I mean really?" says Earl.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.