Simply Natural Creamery Gets Milk From Cow to Consumer
Neil and Jackie Moye of Greene County decided that to instill responsibility in their children at a young age, they would teach them how to properly care for and work with animals. The farming couple bought a few Jersey cows because of their gentle nature and high-quality milk, and their three children, Holly, Brantley, and Daniel, learned how to take care of them, including feeding and milking the animals. Over the years, the family fell in love with the Jersey breed and considered the idea of opening a dairy. Several years later, Simply Natural Creamery was born.
A true family operation, Neil owns the creamery with his brother, David. Neil’s wife and children, plus David’s wife and three children, are all involved in the day-to-day responsibilities. The brothers have been farming for almost three decades, originally with row crops, then adding hogs, turkey and cattle.
“It all started in the early 2000s, and the dairy operated five years before the creamery started,” says Michael Fulcher, marketing director at Simply Natural Creamery. “We were initially just selling milk in big tanker trucks. The problem was that they were mixing the milk with other cow breeds, and the Jersey milk lost its identity. The only way to cure that is to do it yourself, and that’s when the idea for the creamery came about.”
Simply Natural Creamery officially opened its doors in October 2014 and includes a processing plant and creamery store. They sell several varieties of milk, including buttermilk, whole milk and chocolate milk, which Fulcher says tastes almost like a melted chocolate milkshake. And the creamery makes its own ice cream, too – popular with visitors in the summertime.
“The original plan was to sell milk for a while then get into ice cream, but then we started making it and everyone went crazy, so we did both,” Fulcher says. “They’ve been a big hit, and we’re known for our butter pecan flavor.”
Simply Natural Creamery is also the only dairy located in Eastern North Carolina that processes its own milk, with more than 70 sales outlets throughout the region. The milk gets processed the same day they milk the cows, resulting in some of the freshest milk possible.
One thing the Moyes know to be true is that you won’t get high-quality products unless you give cows high-quality care.
“We pride ourselves on how we take care of our animals,” Fulcher says. “They live a natural lifestyle, and the only time they’re on concrete is when they’re being milked. Everyone jokes to us about ‘spoiling our girls’ because we treat them so well.”
The creamery’s cows’ natural lifestyle allows them to roam, graze and lounge throughout the farm’s pastures whenever they please. The family also grows everything used in the cows’ feed, including corn, soybean meal, barley, cottonseed and more.
On the Moove
Consumers are more than welcome to see the cows in their natural habitat, along with everything else that goes on at Simply Natural Creamery. The farm offers tours throughout the week and on weekends.
“The agritourism part is something we didn’t really foresee as a big deal, but it’s exploded over the past couple of years,” Fulcher says. “We started doing walking tours, but now we’ve had to hire tour guides. There’s such a huge emphasis on people wanting to learn where their milk comes from. We do a lot of school tours and teach the kids how milk gets on their cereal.”
In 2016, more than 23,000 people took a tour of the creamery.
Whether visiting for a behind-the-scenes look or just to grab a delicious ice cream cone, Simply Natural Creamery continues to garner consumers’ attention, providing high-quality, delicious, local products and becoming a destination where people can readily find them.
If You Go...
1265 Carson Edwards Road in Ayden
Simply Natural Creamery offers 1.5-hour weekday tours by reservation only. Weekend tours take place every hour on the hour, lasting 30 minutes. For more details on where to buy or planning your visit, call (252) 746-3334 or go online to simplynaturalcreamery.com.
– Rachel Bertone