Michael Turley wasn’t always a farmer. In fact, before he started managing the 120 Holstein cows on his family’s dairy farm in Greenville, Illinois, he was managing workers at the St. Louis communications and marketing firm Osborn Barr as its CEO.
Turley joined Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, along with Sauce managing editor Catherine Klene, to talk about his journey for this month’s Sound Bites segment. They also discussed innovation in the farming industry and how farms are adapting their business plans to stay relevant to consumers.
Turley is now the fourth generation in his family to run Rolling Lawns Farm. He said it’s one of about 60 small farms in the U.S. that still sell fluid milk. That’s the trade phrase for the processed milk consumers buy in grocery stores.
“We wanted to set our value on a couple of things: extraordinary animal care, [in a] time when people are concerned about it, to just the fact that we could work with chefs and become a chef-preferred product,” Turley said.
“There really wasn't anybody doing that, certainly [not] in the St. Louis market,” he added.
Of Turley, Klene said, “He's the only one I know doing fluid milk. A lot of the dairy farms that I cover do cheese or yogurt or ice cream or something like that, but his name kept popping up on all these [restaurant] menus that I was seeing around town … and I would go to a local grocery store, like Local Harvest, and his milk was the only one that I was seeing.
“I thought it was a really interesting move to make yourself known as the milkman in St. Louis.”
Restaurants that use Rolling Lawns’ milk include Vicia, Bulrush and Grace Meat + Three. Local grocery stores that carry the product include Local Harvest, Freddie’s Market, the Smokehouse Market and, beginning Dec. 9, Straub’s.
Listen to the full conversation:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.
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