by Greg Bowen and Susan McQuilkin

According to The Impact of Agriculture on Maryland’s Economy, published last summer,  Maryland’s dairy sector generates over $1 Billion in total annual economic impact, second only to the poultry sector. However, it is hard to find a dairy in rural Southern Maryland.  In fact, none of the five counties in Southern Maryland had a dairy until farm owners Geoffrey Morell and Sally Fallon Morell of P.A. Bowen Farmstead,  and co-founders of the Weston A. Price Foundation, opened one in Prince George’s County just a few years back. The vast majority of Maryland’s remaining dairies are in Western and Central Maryland.

clover HillThis time, the Amish community took the lead in creating Southern Maryland’s second dairy, expressing interest in building one at 27925 Woodburn Hill Road, Mechanicsville Maryland. Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) has been working with members of the Amish to assist them in establishing a Manufacture Grade dairy (Clover Hill Dairy) for cheese and butter. The milk for pasteurized cheese will be sourced from more than 11 local dairy farms.

clover hill

Pasteurization Room

SMADC staff facilitated meetings with the Maryland Center for Milk Control to speed up communications and navigate regulatory issues concerning the approval of the Cheese House pasteurization  equipment and timing pump which will be operated using non-standard 24 volt direct current. SMADC staff, with the assistance of Senator ‘Mac’ Middleton, hosted a meeting between Clover Hill Dairy, the Center of Milk Control and dairy engineer Bill Rowlands, of Rowlands Sales Company Inc., to approve the dairy power source, operating equipment and facility plans.

Assistance was particularly needed to navigate the regulatory process for a dairy processing system that would not be connected to the electrical grid but would have to comply with rigorous state performance standards. SMADC staff person Susan McQuilkin facilitated communications and navigation of regulatory issues concerning the construction and operation of dairy production equipment. She worked closely with the Maryland Center of Milk Control and the dairy board on all aspects of permitting and certification for the development of a Standard Operating Procedures manual. She arranged and participated in numerous meetings on this endeavor with the dairy board and Maryland regulatory offices.

Clover Hill Dairy received its Manufacture Grade temporary permit on March 6th. which allows for the manufacture and sale of pasteurized milk cheeses and butter. Approved recipes for production include Jack, Cheddar and Latin American Curd Cheese.

Local dairies like Clover Hill are a real boost to the local economy and they help keep our food dollars here too! Success in this endeavor has been due the farmers of Clover Hill Dairy and Cheese House, Maryland Division of  Milk Control, DHMH Office of Food Protection, Rowlands Engineering, Harbor Designs Engineering, St. Mary’s County Government (especially Donna Sasscer), and Maryland Department of Agriculture. Successful coordination of communication between entities has been due to our own Susan McQuilkin!

The Dairy will be open to the general public this week, Wednesday through Saturday during daylight hours.