Haverton Hill Creamery in Richfield
By Melissa Mendonca
Story by Melissa Mendonca
Photos by Alexis Leclair
WHEN JOE AND MISSY Adiego uprooted their family and business in Petaluma for Tehama County, they saw the advantage of the Sonoma County regulation that creameries be mobile units. “Literally, they have wheels on them and you can head them down the road,” says Missy. “It actually traveled well,” she says of their Haverton Hill Creamery, which found its new home in the Richfield area of Corning. “Only a few broken tiles.”
Founded in 2010 as a fluid producer of sheep’s milk, Haverton Hill expanded to ice cream, butter and bottled milk in 2014. When they moved to Tehama County in 2017, they closed their dairy production and began working with California sheep producers to keep focus on the creamery. They keep a small herd of East Frisian sheep on their farm, but primarily source milk from others.
“People don’t realize that you can even milk a sheep,” Missy says. Their bottled milk is the only brand in the nation, and has gained notice from Vogue Magazine and the Washington Post. The couple knew it would be a challenge to introduce a new product to the market, but they also knew it would meet the needs of a lactose-intolerant population and those curious about alternatives to dairy milk. “We compare it to a whole Jersey milk,” she adds. “It’s a little thicker. It’s not like goat milk at all. There’s no animal taste. It’s cream top so you’ll see a thick line of cream that you’ll have to shake back in before you drink it.” It comes in glass bottles which harken back to the days of home milk delivery.
Their products are sold primarily in the Bay Area, but are available locally at New Earth Market in Chico and on Saturdays at the Redding Farmers Market. The Richfield Market near the creamery keeps ice cream in stock for hot summer days and the neighbors who have welcomed the Adiego family so readily. “We were backed by Whole Foods, which was wonderful,” says Missy, noting the tremendous value of this, particularly in the startup years. “We launched at Whole Foods in 2014 and we’ve been there ever since.”
The decision to leave Petaluma wasn’t made easily, as Joe had grown up there and the family – Joe, Missy and daughters Avery, 11, Hadley, 9, and Leary, 3 – were deeply rooted. “We searched throughout all of California, southern and northern, in ag areas,” says Missy. It was a run-down 1935 farmhouse in need of a lot of love and elbow grease on a 1,200-tree walnut orchard slated for removal that caught the eyes and hearts of the family. “I love a good project,” says Missy, who documents the property’s changes, as well as those of her family, on a blog connected to Haverton Hill’s website.
An aspect of the business close to the hearts of young Avery, Hadley and Leary is the ice cream, which comes in six flavors: vanilla bean, mint chip, dark chocolate cocoa nib, cookies and cream, strawberry balsamic, and hazelnut crunch. Noting that they started with a recipe developer, Missy says, “Honestly, we decide what we would like, what our kids would like. We try to keep it pretty traditional. And good. As long as we love it and our kids love it, we know our customers will love it.”
The sheep butter developed at Haverton is something the creamery can hardly keep up with, its popularity has grown so much. “It’s got a high butterfat so it’s more like a European butter,” says Missy. “You can use our butter absolutely any way you use regular butter.”
The success of Haverton Hill is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Missy, now fully immersed in all things creamery, came from the world of hunter/jumper horses in upstate New York. “When we started in 2010 I had never been to a dairy,” she says with a laugh. “My husband had the idea. He had a bit of a dairy background. He grew up in 4-H and FFA with sheep.” Thankfully, it’s a business in which the whole family can participate, and Joe and Missy relish teaching their daughters how to be successful on a farm. “They’re very involved, not necessarily child labor, but it’s how they earn their allowance,” Missy says. “They’re professional box makers. They’re very involved, which is wonderful for us.”
Haverton Hill happenings are chronicled on Instagram and its blog attached to the website. You’ll find a mix of updates on the family, products, business and farm community. It’s a large undertaking that Missy says came about because, “We closed our eyes, went for it and it worked out. We’re not afraid of hard work. And we’ve been really lucky.” •
Haverton Hill Creamery
Find them on Instagram