Katy Viehmann, hostess and dairy bar attendant, stands in the cheese aging room at the Loft Restaurant and Dairy Bar at Traders Point Creamery, where an assortment of cheeses sits on display as it matures. The farm sells 100-percent grass-fed organic dairy products in clear glass bottles to display the quality of their milks, yogurts and cheeses and their commitment to transparency in agriculture.
Katy Viehmann, hostess and dairy bar attendant, stands in the cheese aging room at the Loft Restaurant and Dairy Bar at Traders Point Creamery, where an assortment of cheeses sits on display as it matures. The farm sells 100-percent grass-fed organic dairy products in clear glass bottles to display the quality of their milks, yogurts and cheeses and their commitment to transparency in agriculture.

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. — Here along the property of a rolling green pasture that remains vibrant even in winter, Traders Point Creamery has made a name for itself and built a thriving clientele by offering organic, 100-percent grass-fed dairy products.

The first dairy farm in Indiana to be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the farm and artisan creamery has been in business since 2003, when Fritz and Jane Kunz began with 150 acres of their grandparents’ land, a small dairy operation and a big dream to bring organic, 100-percent grass-fed dairy products to central Indiana.

A trip to Traders Point Creamery is as much about visiting the farm’s milking barn, restaurant, pasture, cropland, woods and creek and seeing the milking herd, dry herd and young heifer stock of Brown Swiss cattle as meeting the Kunzes and their down-to-earth staff.

While a great experience unfolds from inside a fleur de la terre, brick street tomme, Boone County bloomy, fromage or any one of the other members of the farm’s family of cheeses, the essence of Traders Point Creamery is evident in the cooperative attitude present.

“A lot of people think grass-fed beef will be simpler than it is, but every piece matters, and you must pay attention to the subtle differences,” said Gail Alden, director of marketing and events for Traders Point Creamery.

The Kunzes use a rotational grazing system to address a problem on their land that many other farms share — erosion of the topsoil.

The system fosters a healthy environment for earthworm development to rebuild the soil in a floodplain.

“We do a process of intensive rotational grazing to simulate a natural process. The cows are part of an ecosystem. If you add an animal vector and let the land rest for 35 to 45 days as they migrate through early spring and summer, they help build the topsoil and grow soil nutrition,” said Fritz Kunz.

“Even the cows’ hooves help plant seedlings into the ground,” he added.

Over the winter, when the fields lay dormant, the cows are fed mixed rations of hay, spelt to give a combination of protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.

“The total mixed ration allows us to feed all the cows the right diet,” Kunz said. “The cows start into spring with really good body condition.”

Mark Vanderkooy, director of products, takes charge of milking between 60 and 90 cows each day throughout the year from 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

They only milk two-thirds of the herd, leaving the dry herd to have their calves before joining the milking herd.

The cows are about three years old when they produce their first milk, and they must have a calf before they produce milk.

Each cow will produce about five to six gallons of milk each day, adding up to about 130 gallons of milk daily.

The cows are bred back during the milking cycle, usually in the first three months, and are dried off in their sixth month of pregnancy.

The Kunzes let the baby cows stay with their mothers and use a strong genetics program to ensure their cows are productive and traceable.

“One-hundred percent of my spare time is spent reading about cow production,” Vanderkooy said. “Grass-fed milk is digested differently in the stomach. Finely-chopped food can hurt cows. While grain fed to cows today is great for milk production, it is rough on the cow.”

Because the milk is not homogenized, the cream line, which separates the milk fat from the milk, is visible at the top of the container. The farm’s Dutch chocolate milk yields a thick, creamy taste resembling chocolate ice cream, providing essential vitamins and minerals.

Kunz, a doctor who has done extensive research on the health benefits of foods such as milk, said the farm is selling medicine as much as dairy products.

Still, the experience begs the question, what’s so special about grass-fed cows’ milk? Isn’t corn a grass, too?

“The problem with cows eating corn is when they eat the corn seed, which contains a lot of starch, it’s like eating cotton candy, and the cow does not get the nutrition it needs,” Kunz said. “In the same way, it’s important for a cow calf to be brought up on its mother’s milk rather than a milk replacer.”

The Kunzes buy milk from other similarly-sized regional 100-percent grass-fed farms and host Indiana’s only continuous farmers market, which shifts to the Red Party Barn, a restored pig sty and corn crib from Geneva, that now is configured in tandem style as the farm’s milking parlor during the cooler months.

Amos Schwartz, a close family friend, has helped relocate the historic barns found at Traders Point Creamery, located at the northwestern edge of Indianapolis in Zionsville.

One barn originating in Bluffton, near the Wabash River, now houses the Loft Restaurant, Dairy Bar and Creamery Barn, an essential stopping point and hub for visitors to the farm to check in and chat with the Kunzes or any of the farmers or employees who are enjoying a hot cup of tea or homemade meal in the middle of a busy day.

Guests to The Loft can dine on seasonal menu items including artisan cheese fondue, 100-percent grass-fed beef, Traders Point Creamery mac n’ cheese, pastured pork, elk, ostrich, yak, wild boar and wild-caught seafood under the structure’s soaring barn ceiling, round rafters and original hand-hewn timbers.

“In the beginning, this barn was only envisioned as the Dairy Bar, but it has expanded to include a restaurant specially prepared menu of fresh items for guests to enjoy as they learn about the creamery and cheese and milk-making operations at the farm,” said Lauren Bobbitt, communications assistant.

Guests who visit the Green Market Lawn from May to October can enjoy the farm’s Summer Friday Night farmers market featuring a dinner cooked from local organic fare.

At the winter market held November through April on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, they can buy meat, dairy, spices, coffee, tea, bread and other items.

One of the remarkable things about Traders Point Creamery is its prime location, in the Eagle Creek Watershed, near Interstate 465 and within driving distance of the big city and small neighboring town.

A Burr Oak Tree from virgin growth timber, more than 300 years old and measuring 16 feet in circumference, juts from the trail near the creek, suggestive of a tree house.

It’s hard not to notice, between the lively work environment, elfin decorum and bustling scenery, how much Traders Point Creamery evokes Neverland, that fantastic place in J.M. Barrie’s classic fairy tale, Peter Pan.

While the elixir for immortality has not been discovered, the Kunzes haven’t ruled out the possibility of finding it in a bottle of fresh milk.