Cruze Farm Innovator to Deliver Commencement Address for UT CASNR Graduates


Colleen Cruze Bhatti, UT CASNR alumna and commencement speaker

Colleen Cruze Bhatti will be the commencement speaker for the University of Tennessee College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources during the college’s graduation ceremonies. Commencement begins at 8:30 a.m., May 11, in UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena.​ Photo supplied.


Colleen Cruze Bhatti, the driving force behind Cruze Farm’s dairy products, will address spring graduates of her own college on May 11. Cruze Bhatti will be the commencement speaker for the University of Tennessee College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The college’s graduation ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m., May 11, in UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena.

Cruze Bhatti has pioneered as the first woman to lead her family’s successful dairy farm. She earned a B.S. in agricultural science from the college in 2011, and since graduation, has used both innovation and marketing expertise to transform the farm’s dairy products into one of Knoxville’s most well-known brands. She credits her education as a factor that helped her do it.​ 

During a childhood on her family’s fifth generation dairy farm, Cruze Bhatti mastered dairy production and processing early, learning all about milking cows and bottling milk from her parents, Earl and Cheri. As a teen, she scooped ice cream at a local farmer’s market. As a college student, she often returned home on the weekends to help at the dairy. Then, after completing her degree at UT, she applied her college education to her family’s business, expanding the farm’s bottling operation into a larger scale milk distribution service. 

Area customers revere Cruze Farm’s fresh pasteurized milk and buttermilk, along with often surprising flavors of ice cream. All are produced with milk from cows that graze on pasture 365 days a year. Cruze Bhatti’s innovations in recent years include selling ice cream in a vividly decorated food truck. In 2017, she and husband Manjit Bhatti opened a pop-up store downtown near Knoxville’s Market Square. The pop-up quickly became a destination for ice cream lovers. Later last year, the couple launched a brick-and-mortar ice cream shop. It was joined early this year with a pizza barn that features mozzarella her husband developed and flavorful fermented dough developed by a veteran from Blackberry Farm. The ice cream shop and adjoining barn are in the southeast Knox County Asbury community, the very community where her grandparents met and farmed. The location brings Cruze Bhatti’s operations full circle.

Today, Cruze Farm distributes its dairy products in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, and the Tri-Cities. The farm sells premium soft serve ice cream at its storefront and employs around 30 fellow Knoxvillians. Employees feature a signature look of matching red lipstick and red gingham dresses with coordinating attire for men. Cruze Bhatti’s use of social media has attracted 18,900 followers on Facebook and high numbers, also, on Instagram and Twitter. 

Cruze Bhatti and her husband are raising their children, Amery and William, on the family dairy farm in hope that they will carry on the family business another generation. In 2005, the Cruze family placed a conservation easement on the property to assist it in becoming a “forever farm.”

You can learn more about Cruze Bhatti in a TN Magic Moments podcast. You’ll find it, named Gingham Dresses in a Levis’ World, at tiny.utk.edu/cruze

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery and service. ag.tennessee.edu.

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Contact:

Patty McDaniels, media liaison, 615-835-4570, pmcdaniels@tennessee.edu

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