Rockhill Creamery resides on what is known as the James & Amy Burnham Farmstead. The farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and received the Utah Heritage Foundation "Best Adaptive Use" award in 2007. And in 2011, we were thrilled to accept the National Trust for Historic Preservation "Honor Award."
The farmstead is located in the town of Richmond on a rocky hillside in Utah's beautiful Cache Valley. It came into being circa 1893 with the completion of the farmhouse—a two-story, victorian-eclectic, all-brick building. The home was built by James Burnham, a long-time Richmond resident and highly skilled mason. The second-oldest building on the property is the hay barn, circa 1915, also believed to be built by Burnham.
The rest of the farm's structures were built over several decades by the property's second resident/owner, Willis Erickson. Erickson purchased the property in the late 1920's and began to build on what had been a subsistence farming operation for the Burnham family. In addition to working for Union Pacific and milking several cows, Erickson built a thriving egg business culminating in the late 1950's with more than 7,000 laying hens housed on the property.
Erickson built the large granary to store and process feed for his own operation and several neighboring egg producers.
By the mid -1970's the property began to fall into disrepair. Erickson died in 1984 leaving it to his niece. Pete Schropp purchased the farmstead in 1986, and Jennifer Hines joined him shortly thereafter. They have been working to restore and maintain it ever since. After bringing the home up to a minimum standard of livability, they turned to shoring up what was left of the outbuildings, and exploring ways to make the farm pay for itself.
Over the next 15 years the farmstead underwent a variety of transformations. Initially, many of the buildings and much of the property were converted into a heifer-calf raising operation. But with the continued consolidation of the dairy industry, this became a losing venture at the small scale.
By 2001 Pete and Jennifer had settled on opening a farmstead cheese business, and they began to repurpose all of the buildings to that end. The foundation and floor of what had been Willis Erickson's large chicken coop were used for the milking corral, complete with loafing stalls and calving pens, and the milk parlor itself.
What was the egg-cooling building has been repurposed into our cheese parlor. The granary now serves as our farmstand/retail shop. And the hay barn still stores our alfalfa hay, but also contributes to hosting special events, including our town's farmers market.
A Creamery is Born
We opened Rockhill Creamery in the spring of 2005 and have been making use of every corner of the farmstead ever since.
In 2007 we constructed a new, underground, cheese-aging facility, complete with an outside ramp and viewing window for our visitors to enjoy. We stayed with the farmstead's theme and copied the inside/out style of the granary on the above ground portion of the aging room.
We make approximately 200 pounds of cheese per week — year-around. Until recently, all the milk used to make that cheese came from our own six, pampered and spoiled Brown Swiss cows. In the summer of 2019, we formed a new cooperative partnership with Cache Meadow Creamery to source raw milk from them.
Our milk parlor has now been repurposed into a milk transport tank cleaning bay and office. A few of our Brown Swiss cows joined the herd of Jerseys at Cache Meadow Creamery, but you'll still see our oldest girls grazing the pastures here at Rockhill Creamery where they're living the good life raising calves and greeting visitors.