Harmony Valley Creamery Association. Orestes Fabio Degottardi fifth from the right. Photo Courtesy of Paul Hammerschmidt
What do you get when antiquity and artisanry get together? (Okay, okay, “artisanry” isn’t a word but the answer is the same nonetheless.) You get Harmony. For a town that covers only one block and has long boasted a road sign proclaiming a population of 18, Harmony, California is something rather special. Once a thriving dairy mecca and home to a quirky artisan culture, this town has a history and a future worth knowing about.
Harmony’s History of Dairy Farming
Settlers of Swiss-Italian decent made this region their home in the 19th century. The town was founded in 1869 and what is now called Harmony was simply a settlement of several dairy ranches and a creamery. But the creamery was something extraordinarily special! Harmony Valley Dairy Co-Op began in 1901 and employed several people (and cows) to craft and create unbelievably delicious cheese, milk, and butter. The area local William Randolph Hearst (newspaper publisher and renown politician) and his Hollywood friends were known to stop by the itty-bitty town for a taste of their distinct dairy.
The thriving creamery that began in 1901 and had once churned out over 2,000 pounds of cheese per day had its end in 1955. Since then the town has had its ups and downs, sometimes being more desolate than inhabited, but has somehow always remained its quirky, odd self, opening its arms to creative, artistic, history-loving souls.
A Future Inspired By A Past
We at Harmony Valley Creamery have a vision for the future that resembles the charm of its past. We hope to bring the history that made Harmony so unique back to life again. A micro-dairy would certainly be a progressive move as no dairy farming exists in San Luis Obispo County today. While these plans are still to come and haven’t happened yet, we are hopeful in rejuvenating this historic little central coast town and its neighboring area.
Our future is rooted in our past. We are excited to share our passion and love of the area into a celebration of dairy farming in Harmony, California. Next time you are traveling along the central coast on Highway 1, we hope you will stop by and celebrate the past with us, too!