Tulip Tree Creamery – Indianapolis, Indiana
Founded in 2014 by Fons Smits and Laura Davenport, Tulip Tree Creamery in Indianapolis, Indiana, produces artisan cheeses using milk from a local dairy who raises cows in accordance with Certified Humane® standards, which means: no tie stalls, daily access to pasture and exercise areas, fresh wholesome feed without hormones or antibiotics, and a living environment that supports their ability to engage in natural behaviors.
“We want to show our customers that we do not just use any type of milk in our cheeses,” says Fons. “We care about how the animals are treated and how a farm is managed. We believe sourcing Certified Humane® products demonstrates that to our customers.”
Three times a week, the dairy delivers fresh raw milk that Tulip Tree Creamery pasteurizes to make their unique blend of cheeses. “All of our products are handmade using traditional European recipes with our own special twist to them,” says Fons.
Tulip Tree Creamery’s co-founder, Laura, arrived in the dairy world by way of public health and biology. She was an educator in hospitals and for a health-related software company before moving working for dairy farms in 2004. Her focus at Tulip Tree Creamery is in sales, marketing, and education.
Fons grew up in the Netherlands, in the Northern Province of Friesland, a small village surrounded by lakes and canals as well as old villages and sprawling pasture-lands. While known for its dairy farms, Fons didn’t grow up on a farm, but was always so “fascinated with dairy products and everything you can make out of milk,” that he studied food science in the Netherlands for seven years with a specialization in dairy science.
Fons then took that knowledge and traveled all over the world developing small- to medium-sized dairy plants with a focus on cheese making.
“My focus has always been on small-scale processing and the hands-on approach,” says Fons. “Being able to be involved from start to finish in developing a product or creamery, or making a product from taking the milk from the farm to selling it to a customer really was important to me.”
When Fons arrived in the U.S. in 2003, he helped develop several creameries in California and the Midwest, including a Certified Humane® creamery, which he says, was the inspiration for launching his own Certified Humane® creamery. While he focuses on the cheesemaking and developing the creameries unique cheese flavors, Fons says animal welfare remains an important consideration for his company.
Tulip Tree Creamery was named after the state tree in Indiana and a famous flower in the Netherlands, says Fons, bringing everything full circle.
“As a child, I never thought I would be traveling the world and coming to Indiana to make cheese,” he says. “But I really enjoy bringing these recipes from Europe to the U.S., and seeing how much people here enjoy these artisan cheeses.”
Tulip Tree Creamery’s Certified Humane® cheeses are available throughout the Midwest and at local farmers markets in the Indianapolis area. Fons says they love to interact and engage with the public. “We are always asking people what flavors they would like us to experiment with,” says Fons.
If you live in Indianapolis, Tulip Tree Creamery also offers cheesemaking classes for the public.
Visit TulipTreeCreamery.com for more information.