Seeder: Charlotte Smith, Champoeg Creamery
The Farm: 5th generation family farm near Champoeg Park, St Paul – 75 acres of pasture and woods to rotationally graze livestock
What They Seed: Grass fed beef (Angus), pastured pork (Spotted Poland), poultry (chickens, turkeys) & eggs. Jersey milk cows.
Where You Can Find Them:
On the Farm: Farm Store open limited hours Monday – Saturday.
Online: Beef and pork available to purchase & ship online.
Charlotte left her family farm in St Paul to attend Lewis & Clark College and swore she would never go back. However she eventually did return, with the motivation to nourish and heal her family. Both of Charlotte’s young children suffered from eczema and doctor-prescribed steroid creams were only providing minor relief. When someone suggested she try adding raw milk to their diets, she didn’t hesitate to give it a try. Two weeks later her son’s skin was clear and within 6 months her daughter’s was as well. As sourcing the milk was challenging, Charlotte took it on herself to get Jersey cows and set up to start producing her own milk. This grew into selling the milk to her neighbors and friends and the start of Champoeg (sham-poo-ee) Creamery.
Charlotte’s home farm is on 5 acres adjacent to the 200 acres that her great great grandfather once farmed cattle on. The farm has remained in the family through 5 generations and Charlotte now leases 70 of those acres from the family to facilitate her growing operation. As the raw milk industry is unpredictable and Oregon laws make it challenging for producers to make a living, Charlotte has expanded in recent years to include grass fed livestock. She now raises about 50 grass fed Angus cattle and 40 pastured Spotted Poland heritage breed pigs a year. She also has pastured poultry (chickens and turkeys) and eggs. The animals are on an intensive rotational grazing system: they’re moved everyday and the pasture is left to recover about 5 weeks before the animals return. During the winter, the cattle are fed hay that was harvested from the farm that summer.
All of the farm products are sold direct-to-consumer. About 60 very lucky families receive their weekly share of raw milk. Shares of grass fed beef and pastured pork are available to purchase online, otherwise customers are welcome to make an appointment to visit the one-room, self-service farm store. The freezers and fridge are full of steaks, ground beef, bone broth, marrow bones, rendered lard and eggs.
Aside from offering these amazing products, Charlotte puts a great emphasis on education for her customers and the general public. Her and her daughter (who now has a Masters in Nutrition) lead cooking classes on the farm and Charlotte actively maintains a blog with healthy recipes and stories from the farm. Charlotte and her husband also offer farm camps for kids in the summer, giving children the opportunity to get one week of the full-farm experience, from milk the cows to tending to the chickens.
Charlotte farms, writes and lives with conviction. Her product and influence is undoubtedly changing how people consume and think about food.
“I suppose you could say I have something to prove” – on running a sustainable family farm
“There may be a day when I wake up and have to shut my milk business down”
Photo Credits: Charlotte Smith, Champoeg Creamery