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The Farmstead Creamery Advisor: An Excerpt

The Farmstead Creamery Advisor: An Excerpt

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Drawing from her own and other cheesemakers’ experiences, Caldwell brings to life the story of creating a successful cheesemaking business in a practical, organized manner. Absolutely essential for anyone interested in becoming a licensed artisan cheesemaker, The Farmstead Creamery Advisor will also appeal to the many small and hobby-farm owners who already have milking animals and who wish to improve their home dairy practices and facilities.
Drawing from her own and other cheesemakers’ experiences, Caldwell brings to life the story of creating a successful cheesemaking business in a practical, organized manner. Absolutely essential for anyone interested in becoming a licensed artisan cheesemaker, The Farmstead Creamery Advisor will also appeal to the many small and hobby-farm owners who already have milking animals and who wish to improve their home dairy practices and facilities.

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Published by: Chelsea Green Publishing on May 05, 2010
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What’s So Special about Farmstead Cheese?

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heUnitedStatesisexperiencingafood-qualityrenaissance.Anincreasein thenumberoffarmers’marketsand“eatlocal”campaigns,agrowingawarenessoffoodquality,andadesiretoappreciatethestorybehindtheproductare allinfluencingthewayAmericansarebuyingandconsumingfood.Whileweare stilllargelyanationoffast-foodaddictsandall-you-can-eatbuffetaficionados, moreandmorepeopletodayarestartingtocarelessaboutthesizeoftheserving thanaboutthequalityandstoryofitsingredients.Thisawakeningisnotlimited tothosewhocanaffordtheluxuryoffinerfoods.Itextends—andindeedoriginates—fromabasicneedtoreconnectwithhealth,history,andtheawarenessof nutrition’sroleinourveryexistence.

The History of Cheesemaking in the United States
BernardNantet,inhisbookCheeses of the World,maintainsthattheUnitedStates, unlikeEurope,doesnothaveastrongtraditionofartisancheesemaking.Itcould be argued that it is this lack of an embedded culinary-cultural background, in part, that allowed the unfettered mechanization that all but extinguished the manufactureofhandcraftedartisancheesesintheU.S.bythemid-1900s.The currentrevival,whichbeganinearnestinthelate1970s,occurredthankstoa combinationoffactorsthatincreasedtheAmericanpublic’sappreciationnotonly offoodbutalsoofthewayoflifethatthefarmer-cheesemakerleads.

Rise and Fall
Althoughgoats,sheep,andcowstraveledtotheAntilles(Caribbeanislands)with ChristopherColumbusinthelate1400s,itwasn’tuntiltheearly1600sthatmilk cows, and along with them cheesemaking, arrived at European settlements on the shores of what is now the United States of America. Cheeses were part of theprovisionsstockedonboardshipstravelingtotheAmericas,andaswithall foodspackedforthedifficultvoyages,cheesewasasustenancefood,notaluxury.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THE LEAP

Cheese,bothonboardtheshipsandinthenewsettlements,wassimplythebest waytopreserveexcessmilkandextendtheavailabilityofavaluablefood. EuropeanimmigrantsadaptedtothehardshipsoflifeintheNewWorldwhile continuingtopracticethefoodtraditionsoftheirnativecultures.Overtimeand through continued waves of immigration, cheese produced in America graduallybegantoreflectregionalinfluences:Inthenortheastpartofthecountry,an English influence created an early Cheddar industry; in Wisconsin, Swiss and DanishtraditionsincludedGoudaandalpinestyles;andinCaliforniaandthe West,SpanishandFrenchculturesinfluencedthekindsofcheesesmadethere, including the development of an American original, Monterey Jack cheese. By themid-1800smostruralfamilieshadamilkcoworgoatsfordairy,meat,and by-products.Cheesewasproducedonthefarmorathome,andcheesemaking wasanormalpartofahomemaker’srepertoire.Theseedsofchange,forallof agriculture and eating, came with the American Industrial Revolution in the 1850s.Mechanizationincreasedtheabilityoffarmerstogrowmorefeed,raise moreanimals,andsubsequentlyharvestever-increasingquantitiesofmilk.For thecheesemaker,equipmentcouldbemanufacturedtoprocesslargervolumesof milkintocheesetofeedagrowingpopulation. Inthe1840saWisconsinmannamedJamesPicketisbelievedtohavebeen thefirstfarmertomakecheesefromthemilkofnotonlyhisownanimals,but aneighbor’scowsaswell.Thisnewconceptindairyingwastakenastepfurther in1851whenthefirst“modern”cheesefactorywasbuiltbyJesseWilliamsin Oneida,NewYork.Williams’sfactoryisbelievedtohavebeenthefirstcheese plant to pool milk from multiple farmers and complete the entire process of cheese aking in a commercial facility. Other factories quickly sprang up m

Family cow being milked, early twentieth century.

What's So Special about Farmstead Cheese?

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throughoutthecountry.By1880therewere3,923factoriesnationwide,witha productionvolumeof216millionpoundsofcheese.Thefamilycowwasonher wayoutofthepicture. Bythe1920scheeseproductionhadreached418millionpounds,withmostof thisstilloccurringinwhatwouldbe,bytoday’sstandards,smalltomoderate-size facilitiesprocessingmilkfromonlylocaldairiesaswellastheirownmilk.Bythe 1930scow’s-milkcheesessimilarinstyletomostmajorEuropeancheeseswere beingmadeattheindustriallevel. The early part of the 1900s also saw the birth and infancy of what would becomethemodern-daysuper-mega-one-stopgrocerystore.Previously,shopping hadbeendoneatspecializedstores—thebutcher,thebaker,thegreengrocer.But by1910manystoresbegancarryingmultiplespecialtyfoodsunderoneroof.This consolidationofproductsledtothebuildingofever-largerstores,thedevelopment ofchainstores,andtheneedforcentralizeddistribution.Thecompetitivedrive topromotethecheapnessandvalueofone supermarketoveranotherquicklyfollowed. THE VELLA FAMILY These factors all contributed to the impetustoproducecheeseingreatervolumeand TomVellafoundedVellaCheesein1931in in the most cost-effective manner possible. Sonoma, California, with a commitment to local dairymen. His creamery helped many Americansbegantocompromisequalityfor smalldairyfarmsstayinbusinessduringboth pocketbook“value.” the Depression and World War II. Vella’s The Great Depression of the 1930s successfuleffortsextendedbeyondSonomato broughtfurtherwoestothesmallproducer. southernOregon,wherehestartedtheRogue Whilemanysmalldairiesfoldedunderthe Creamery in the 1930s. Both the Rogue economic strain, others survived, in part Creamery (now owned by Cary Bryant and David Gremmels) andVella Cheese (owned thankstotheformationofcooperatives,as byTomVella’s son, Ignazio) continue today well as the intervention of creameries that with a focus on local sustainability as well refocusedtheirproductiontopurchasetheir asonthecreationofartisancheesesthatare fluidmilkfromthesestrugglingsmallfarms rootedintradition. (seesidebar). Followingontheunfortunateheelsofthe Depression,WorldWarIIfurtheredlaborandeconomicissuesbyitsupheaval oftheworkforce(menleftfarmsandfactoriesforthebattlefield)andthenecessaryredistributionofresourcesandsuppliestothewareffort.Whentheconflict finally ended, wartime technological advances transitioned to civilian-oriented purposes.Theincreasedtechnologyavailabletomanufacturing,combinedwith thedemandforcheaperandmoremodernproducts(oftenseenassuperiorbya populationstarvedforfinergoodsatanaffordableprice),spelledtroubleforthe smallhandmade-cheeseproducer.

Revival
The re-emergence of the small cheesemaker began in earnest in the 1980s. As with the decline of handmade cheese, the renaissance occurred in response to theinfluenceofmovementsandtrendsthatoccurredinthetwentiethcentury.

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Hippies,back-to-the-landers,andgourmets (seesidebar)preparedthewayfortherenaissanceofhandmadecheese. Agourmetisanaficionadooffinefoodand Occurring almost simultaneously, and dining.The term “foodie” was first used in running different but overlapping courses, the1980storefertoapersonwhosehobby and passion center around everything to the hippie and the back-to-the-land movedo with food, including understanding its ments both peaked in the 1960s through manufacture and preparation. This new themid-1970s.Theirrootsarevastlydifferavocationinourculturehascontributednot ent,buttheirinfluenceontheawarenessof only to increased sales of small-production food quality and its effects on health and cheese,buttodiverseincomepossibilitiesfor happinessaresimilar.Thehippiemovement farmer-cheesemakers through agri-tourism, cheesemakingclasses,etc.Formoreonvaluebroughtaninterestinnaturaland“health” addedagri-tourism,seechapter13. foods,whiletheback-to-the-landerssought a return to the agrarian and self-sufficient lifestyleoftheirforebears. The back-to-the-land movement saw the return of many urban and suburban dwellers to the countryside. The concept of homesteading brought renewed interest in the family milk cow and dairy goat. Beginning in the 1970s—and still going strong today—the magazine Mother Earth News and the Foxfire book series provided guidelines and inspiration for rural living and self-reliance. For many people, the homesteading spirit and lifestyle proved to beatransientstate,oncethehardshipsand realityof“livingofftheland”hithome.But eventhosewhowentbacktomoremodern lifestyles did not lose the appreciation for thatwayoflife. WhilesomepartsofoursocietywereinterFarmstead cheese pioneer Jennifer Lynn Bice, Redwood Hill ested in reconnecting to the land, a more Farm, California, making cheese at her on-farm plant in the traditional way of life, and the quality of late 1980s. foodthatlifestyleoffered,anothersegment was developing a culinary consciousness that included an expanding appreciation of food flavors and quality. Increased andeasiertraveltoEurope,especiallyFrance,exposedmanytoflavorsandcookingthathadbeenignored,forthemostpart,inthemodernAmericandiet.This appreciationwashelpedimmenselybytheworkofsuchpeopleasJuliaChild, whosebookMastering the Art of French CookingandtelevisionshowThe French ChefhelpedmanymainstreamAmericansdevelopanewinterestinthequality oftheirfood,andAliceWaters,chefandproprietoroftheBerkeley,California, restaurantChezPanisseandaleaderintheSlowFoodmovement(seesidebar).

GOURMET OR FOODIE?

What's So Special about Farmstead Cheese?

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SLOW FOOD AND AMERICAN RAW-MILK CHEESE
SlowFoodisanon-profit,member-supported internationalorganizationthatwasfoundedin Italyin1989tocounteractfastfoodandfast life,thedisappearanceoflocalfoodtraditions, and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes, andhowourfoodchoicesaffecttherestofthe world. SlowFoodworkstodefendbiodiversity inourfoodsupply,promote“eco-gastronomy” and taste education, and connect producers ofexcellentfoodswithconsumers(or“coproducers,” as the organization describes them) throughvariouseventsandinitiatives. OneofSlowFood’smaininternationalevents is the biennial “Cheese” gathering that takes place in Bra, a market town in the Piedmont regionofnorthwestItaly,justsouthofTurin. At Cheese, according to Slow Food’s website,  “theworld’smostrenownedartisans,affineurs [cheese agers], cheesemongers, and shepherds cometopresenttheircheesestotensofthousandsofvisitorsandhosttasteworkshops.” Slow Food has a strong presence in the United States through its national organization,SlowFoodUSA(www.slowfoodusa.org). TheU.S.organizationhasseveralprogramsthat featureartisancheese,includingtheAmerican RawMilkCheesePresidium,whichisdesigned torecognizeuniqueandvaluableU.S.cheeses. The Raw Milk Cheesemakers’ Association (RMCA) was founded under the guidance of Slow Food USA but operates independently. RMCA promotes the production of highquality raw-milk cheeses by providing criteria andguidelinesforitsmembershipthatsupport both a quality product and humane productionmethods.Seetheresourcesandnotesfor contactinformationfortheRMCA.

Asalloftheseinfluencesconverged,amarketforartisan,American-madecheese begantodevelopandanewwaveofpioneersrosetomeetthecall.Cheesemakers, authors, educators, and visionaries have all had a hand in the current success ofhandmadecheeseintheUnitedStates.Herearejustafewofthesepioneeringfarmsteadcheesemakerinnovatorsandleaders:LauraChenel,LauraChenel’s Chèvre,California,1979;SallyJackson,SallyJacksonCheese,Washington,1979; Allison Hooper and Bob Reese, Vermont Butter and Cheese, Vermont, 1984; Judy Schad, Capriole, Indiana, 1988; and Jennifer Bice, Redwood Hill Farm, California,1988.(Ofthese,CaprioleandSallyJacksonremainfarmsteadoperations.) Authors such as Laura Werlin (who has been writing about cheese in articlesandbookssince1999)andMaxMcCalman(whosebooksandspeaking engagementshavehelpedelevatetheroleofcheeseinfinediningandthestatus ofcheesemongersandmaîtrefromagers)havegreatlyincreasedthepublic’sawareness and appreciation of cheese, as well as its makers. Educators and visionariesincludeRickiCarroll,authorandcofounderofNewEngland Cheesemaking Supplyin1978,whocontinuestoprovidesuppliesandeducationtocheesemakers—home, hobby, and professionals alike; Frank V. Kosikowski, founder of theAmericanCheeseSociety(seesidebaronnextpage)in1983andauthorof Cheese and Fermented Milk Foods; andPaulKindstedt,coauthorwiththeVermont CheeseCouncilofAmerican Farmstead Cheese andanoriginalmemberofACS.It isthankstotheseleaders,aswellasmanyothers,thatthewayhasbeenpavedfor themanynewcheesemakerswhoareexperiencingsuchsuccesstoday.

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THE AMERICAN CHEESE SOCIETY
Accordingtoitswebsite,“theAmericanCheese  3. Tobeaneducationalresourcefor Society was founded in 1983 by Dr. Frank Americancheesemakersandthepublic. KosikowskiofCornellUniversityasanational  4. Toencourageconsumptionthrough grassrootsorganizationforcheeseappreciation bettereducationonthesensorypleasures andforhomeandfarmcheesemaking.” ofcheeseanditshealthfulandnutritionalvalues.” Mission and Purpose  1. ToupholdthehigheststandardsofqualAsof2009theAmericanCheeseSocietyhad ityinthemakingofcheeseandrelated 1,235members,ofwhom409arecheesemakfermentedmilkproducts. ers(ACSdoesnotdifferentiatebetweenfarm 2. Toupholdthetraditionsandpreserve stead and other cheesemaker memberships). thehistoryofAmericancheesemaking. Forthe2009ACSJudgingandCompetition, 1,327cheeseanddairyproductswereentered.

Defining the Small, Farmstead Cheesemaker
NowthatyouknowsomehistoryoffarmsteadcheesemakingintheUnitedStates, let’stalkaboutsomedefinitions,motivations,andqualifications.

“Artisan,” “Farmstead,” and Production Size
Theterm“artisan”isappliedtoanyproduct(foodorotherwise)thatismadein limitedquantitiesbyaskilledcraftsman,usuallybyhand.Thetermisnotlegally defined for business use, however, and is becoming another buzzword whose meaning is being diluted by overuse. The AmericanCheeseSocietydoesdefine“artiARTISAN OR ARTISANAL CHEESE san” when applied to cheese (see sidebar). “Artisan” and “artisanal” (interchangeable Theword“artisan”or“artisanal”impliesthat terms) imply, but do not guarantee, higha cheese is produced primarily by hand, in smallbatches,withparticularattentionpaid qualityproducts! tothetraditionofthecheesemaker’sart,and “Farmstead” is a term applied to cheese thususingaslittlemechanizationaspossible made only from the milk of the farmer’s in the production of the cheese. Artisan, or own animals; the term “farmhouse” is artisanal,cheesesmaybemadefromalltypes sometimes used interchangeably, but it is ofmilkandmayincludevariousflavorings. not as common. The production size of a In order for a cheese to be classified as “farmstead,” the cheese must be made with farmsteadcheesebusinessisnotlimitedor milkfromthefarmer’sownherd,orflock,on defined. In consumers’ minds, however, it thefarmwheretheanimalsareraised.Milk is often assumed that the facility is small usedintheproductionoffarmsteadcheeses andnothighlymechanized.Thefarmstead maynotbeobtainedfromanyoutsidesource. cheese aker is usually the smallest size of m Farmsteadcheesesmaybemadefromalltypes cheese producer, but not always. One very ofmilkandmayincludevariousflavorings. successfulfarmsteadcreameryinWisconsin Source:TheAmericanCheeseSociety(www.cheesesociety.org) milks (according to its website) a herd of

What's So Special about Farmstead Cheese?
TABLE 1-1: Creamery Size Ranges
Very Small Under 10,000 lbs cheese/year 20 ewes* = 2,040 lbs cheese 15 does** = 3,750 lbs cheese 5 cows*** = 5,000 lbs cheese Small 10,000–20,000 lbs cheese/year 100 ewes* = 10,200 lbs cheese 50 does** = 12,500 lbs cheese 10 cows*** = 10,000 lbs cheese Medium 20,000–100,000 lbs cheese/year 200 ewes* = 20,400 lbs cheese 100 does** = 25,000 lbs cheese 20 cows*** = 20,000 lbs cheese

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* East Friesian ewes producing 600 pounds of milk each per year. Assumes a 17% cheese yield. ** Alpine does producing 2,500 pounds of milk each per year. Assumes a 10% cheese yield. *** Guernsey cows producing10,000 pounds of milk each per year. Assumes a 10% cheese yield.

950 Holstein cows, whose production level allows it to make approximately 3 millionpoundsofcheeseannually.Manyotherexistingcowdairieshavevalueaddedcheeseplantsinwhichtheyproducetheirownfarmsteadcheese.Cheeseis savingmanyafamilyfarminthisfashion. Anothertermyouwillseeis“specialty”cheese.Specialtycheeseisproducedby large-scale,industrialcheesecompaniesasavalue-addedproductofhigherquality andinalimitedquantityascomparedtotheirothercheeseproducts.According totheWisconsinSpecialtyCheeseInstitute,aspecialtycheesecannotexceedan annual nationwide volume of more than 40 million—yes, million!—pounds. Bothartisanandfarmsteadcheesessometimesfallunderthecategoryofspecialty cheesewhenbeingdiscussedinindustrytradepapers. Thisbookfocusesonthesmallandverysmallcheesebusiness.Table1-1defines thesizeofacreamerybasedonitsannualproductionofcheese.Iamproviding thesedefinitionstohelpgiveprospectivecheesemakerssomeideaofthesizeand scopetheywillbelookingatinordertomeettheirproductiongoals.Atthistime, theAmericanCheeseSocietyhasnotformallydefinedtheseterms.Also,keepin mindthattheproductiondataarebasedonestimatesandaveragesonly.Actual yieldswillvarygreatlybasedonbreed,management,typeofcheese,andindividualanimaldifferences.Remember,thesenumbersarejusttogiveyouanidea ofwhatsizedairyyoumightwanttoconsider.Whenyouareconsideringthesize ofyourbusiness,boththenumberofanimalsaswellastheproductionvolume ofcheesemustbeconsideredwhenformulatingyourbusinessplan.Wewilltalk moreaboutthisinpart2,“GettingDowntoBusiness.”

The Motivation behind Becoming a Farmstead Cheesemaker
Farmsteadcheesemakersareusuallyauniqueblendoffarmer,animallover,independent spirit, masochistic laborer, and artist. Very few choose this life with monetary goals as their number-one motivator; instead it is a passion for the animalsandforawayoflife,thedesiretocreateavalue-addedproductonan existingfarm,orthedesiretoleaveapriorprofessionorlifestyleforthepursuit

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THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THE LEAP

ofamoreruralwayofliving.Therearealsopeoplewhoenterthebusinesswith purely entrepreneurial motivations—those for whom the growing prestige and marketpotentialofartisancheeseisthemagnet(notunlikethemotivationthat drawssometoplantavineyardorbuildawinery).But,forthemostpart,the farmsteadcheesemakerisfirstandforemostaherdsman.Let’stakealookatsome ofthemostcommonreasonsforbuildingafarmsteadcreamery,alongwiththe assetsandpitfallsthateachmotivationbringstothemix.

Hobby to Profession
Thosewhostartoutwithacoupleofdairygoatsoramilkcowtofeedagrowing family, or a desire to live a more self-sustaining lifestyle, often find themselves withmoremilkthantheyknowwhattodowith.Learningtomakecheeseisa

Pholia Farm today.

What's So Special about Farmstead Cheese?

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logicalprogressionthatbecomesagratifyinghobbyformany.Thedecisionto“go pro”issometimesseenasanelaborationofthehobby,wheninfactitistrulya full-fledgedtransformation.Thechangefromavocationtoprofessionbringsnew dimensionsthatcanwearouteventhemostpassionatehobbyist. • Assets:Existinganimalmanagementskills,awarenessoftherigorsof farmlife,somecheesemakingskills. • Pitfalls:Oftenalackofbusinessmanagementtraining,possiblelack ofinvestmentcapital.

Value-Added
Formanydairypeople,addingacheesefacilitytothedairyfarmprovidesavalueaddedproductthatincreasestheprospectsforsurvivalofthefarm.Thegrowingpopularityandpublicperceptionofcheeseishelpingretainandbringback generationsoffamilythatmightnothavepreviouslystayedonthefarm. • Assets:Existinganimalmanagementskills,awarenessoftherigorsof farmlife,existingbusinessstructure,existinginfrastructure(buildings,systems,etc.). • Pitfalls: Possible lack of cheesemaking skills and a lack of time to leavethefarmfortraining.

Career and Lifestyle Change
Whether a long-contemplated dream or a recent revelation, more and more people are launching farmstead creameries after leaving their previous careers. Oftenthesecareershadlittletodowiththeday-to-dayoperationsofafarm,but maybetheybroughtthemintocontactwithfinecheeseorarural,agrarianway ofliving.Asoftenasnot,thecareerchangeisareturntorootsorafamilyhistory afterexperiencingthe“regular”workworld. • Assets:Possiblebusinessskills,investmentcapital,and/oraretirement income. • Pitfalls:Possiblelackofanimalexperience,possiblelackofphysical staminarelatedtoageatretirement.

The Entrepreneur
Forinvestorsbuildinganartisancheesebusiness,theneedforareliablesource ofthehighest-qualitymilkoftenleadsthemtothefarmsteadsolution.Thesize andscaleoftheseoperationsismediumtolarge.Usuallybothherdmanagersand cheesemakersareemployedtohandlethesepartsoftheoperation. • Assets:Financialresources,businessskills.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THE LEAP

• Pitfalls:Lackofanimalmanagementexpertise.(Cheesemakingexperience,Ibelieve,ismorereadilylearnedthananimalhusbandry— educationalopportunitiesandprofessionalexpertiseareeasiertofind thananin-depthanimalhusbandryeducation.)

The Hybrid
Manyfarmsteadcheesemakersareamixtureofsomeoralloftheabovemotivations.Peopleenteringtheindustrywithavariedbackgroundandmultipleinspirations often bring a mix of qualifications thatpromotesuccessinwaysthatcannotbe TEN QUESTIONS TO anticipatedbysimplyanalyzingtheircredenTEST YOUR SUITABILITY tials.Thereisnowaytoaccuratelycategorize thistypeofperson,butitisstillimportant  1. Doyouliketogetupearly—everyday for them to attempt to analyze their skill oftheyearandformanyyearstocome? setandjobsuitabilitybasedoninformation  2. Doyoumindworkinglateintothe evening—andthengettingupearlythe gainedwhileresearchingtheindustry.
nextday?  3. Doyoumindworkinghardbetween gettingupearlyandgoingtobedlate?  4. Doesyourspouseorpartneralsoenjoy thesehours?  5. Doyouhaveagoodheadforbusiness?  6. Doyouhaveanartisticorcreativeflair?  7. Canyoubesatisfiedwithrepetitivelabor andalotofdishwashing?  8. Doyouhaveagreatloveforworkingwith animals,nomatterhowexhaustedyouare?  9. Canyoudealwellwithconstantlychangingchallengesandproblems,including animaldeaths,equipmentfailure,product loss,possiblelawsuitsandproductrecalls, andrisinginsuranceandpowercosts? 10. Doyoumindworkingforbelowminimumwageforseveralyears,ordoyou haveanindependentsourceofincometo helppaybills?

Do You Really Want to Do This?

Itseemslikebeingafarmsteadcheesemaker would be fun and fulfilling, but once you take a good, hard look at the realities of settingupandrunningyourowncreamery, youneedtodecideifitistherightmovefor you. Here is a little quiz, devised with the helpofcheesemakersfromacrossthecountry,tohelpsetthestageforwhatyouwillbe in for should you bravely go where others havegonebefore(despitetheirwarnings!). Let’s look at these questions in more detail. If it seems a bit discouraging, try torememberthatmanyoftheseissueswill notseemasdauntingafteryoulearnmore. The knowledge and skills you will gain by reading this book and educating yourself through other opportunities will give youthetoolsyouneedtodealwitheachoftheseissues,shouldyouchooseto becomeafarmsteadcheesemaker. Are the hours really that bad?Therearetimesthroughouttheyearwhenmost farmsteadcheesemakersfindthemselvesgoingtobedjustaboutintimetogetup again.Kidding/lambing/calvingseasonisaprimeexample—andthisisalsothe sametimethatmostfarmers’marketsstarttheirseason.Milkisflowing,cheese mustbemade,andbabieswon’twaitforyourbedtimeschedule.Itisoftennonstop work,andyoufeellikeyou’renevercaughtup.Whenyouchoosetobecomea

What's So Special about Farmstead Cheese?

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An artistically designed exterior helps make Pholia Farm’s Hillis Peak an eye-catching cheese.

farmsteadcheesemaker,youarechoosingnotjustajob,butawayoflife.Ifyou haveaspouseorpartner,youwillneedtoconsiderverycarefullywhetherornot thiswayoflifewillbefulfillingforbothofyou,together. How about a good head for business? Whenthehobbyfarmer-cheesemakerturns pro,everythingchanges.Inrealityyouarenowoperatingtwobusinesses—adairy farmandacheesebusiness.Anyinefficiencyineitheraspectwilllikelyevolveinto a liability, both financially and, in the end, emotionally. If you know you will notbeabletodevelopasoundbusinessplan,maintainaccurateandup-to-date financialbooks,completeinvoices,andfollowuponordersandbilling—andyou stillwanttogointothebusiness—thenconsidertakingclasses,orevenhiringa bookkeeperandofficemanager. Why would I need to be creative or artistic? Remember there is “art” in “artisan.”Notonlywillbeingcreativegiveyouanedgeinproducingvisuallyappealingproducts,butitwillhelpwithdesigningpackaging,labels,andpromotional materials.Asthenumberofproducersgrowsandthevolumeoffarmsteadcheeses increases,itwillbethelittlethings,suchasirresistiblepackagingandmouthwa-

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THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THE LEAP

TEN CHARACTERISTICS THAT MAKE FOR A GREAT FARMSTEAD CHEESEMAKER 
         1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Organizationalskills Highenergylevel Personaldrive Abilitytodelaygratification Patience Kindness Persistence Creativity Workethic Ingenuity

tering product presentation, that will help giveyourbusinessanedge.
Is there really a lot of dishwashing and repetitive labor? Oh my, yes! Once all of

your cheese recipes have been refined and perfected, it becomes the great cheesemaker’sjobtokeepmakingthem,asidentically as possible, over and over. Keeping thepassionandinspirationevidentineach batchandwheelcanbecomeachallenge.As to dishwashing, there is a standard saying that cheesemaking is 90 percent cleanup. Sanitation and cleanliness in a licensed creamerycannotbetreatedcasually.Itisnot intheleastbitglamorousorinspiring,but youwillspendagooddealoftimedoingit. How could I be too tired to enjoy my animals? Formostfarmsteadcheesemakers theanimalsareusuallythereasontheymakecheese,nottheotherwayaround. Onceyouarelicensed,however,sellingyourcheesebecomesaprioritythatcan takeawaytimewiththeanimalsanddrainyourpatienceandenergytodealwith theirneeds,aswellasthechallengesthatcaringforthembrings.It’snothardfor thepressuresofthecheesemakingsidetoleachthejoyoutoftheoriginalreason forstartingthebusiness—theanimals. What kinds of problems can crop up?Thefarmsteadcreamery,nomatterhow well administered, will face an ever-changing set of challenges. Dealing with equipment failure that leads to lost production or lost product; animal health

PHOLIA FARM: OUR MOTIVATIONS
Wearedefinitelyinthehybridcategory!While Ihadaruralupbringingandabackgroundin dairycattle,Vernhadamore“rural-suburban” background in addition to his professional militarycareer(includingtheNavalAcademy andamaster’sdegreeincontractsandacquisitions).Iwasanurse(anLPNandLVNforthe betterpartofadecade)andthenaprofessional artist. Vern’s retirement from the military, available land from my family, and the desire tocreateasustainablelifestyleledustodairy goats,whichinturnledtocheesemakingand ultimatelytothe“retirement”careerchoiceof afarmsteadcreamery. Ourdiversebackgroundsbroughtassetsthat we could not have anticipated, such as business skills, decision-making capabilities, and anartisticapproachtoourproducts.Ourpast choices over the years regarding investments yielded enough capital to make the initial investment in our creamery.Vern’s retirement income,whilenotalot,alsoprovidesasafety net that makes sure the essential bills can be paidduringtheyearsthatourcheesebusiness isstillinafledglingstate. Iseeourmotivationasadefinitehybrid:my hobbyasakidwithdairycattlehasturnedintoa profession;wetookachunkoffamilylandthat was dormant and added value to it. This was mostcertainlyahugecareerandlifestylechange, andwefeelthatwehaveenteredamarketthat appealstoourentrepreneurialnatures.

What's So Special about Farmstead Cheese?

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Cheesemaking class at Oregon State University. Photo by Lynn Ketchum, courtesy of Oregon State University Extension and Experiment Station Communications.

issuesthatleadtolostmilk,animaldeaths,andcullingdecisions;andthepossibilityofliabilitylawsuits,productrecall,andinspectionviolations—alltheseand morebringafacettothelifestylethatcanbeundulystressful.Tobesuccessful, youmustbepreparedtofacethesechallengeswithoutlettingthemoverwhelm you. What about money? Evenifyourcheesesellsatthehighendofthepricespectrum,thenumberofhoursyouwillworktocreatethatproductcouldmeanthat youraverageincomewillbesomewherebelowminimumwage—I am not kidding. Ifyoudonothavetheinvestmentcapitaltosurvivethefirstfewyears,oranother sourceofincometomakeendsmeet,thenyouwouldbewisetoreconsiderstartingacheesemakingbusiness(oranysmallbusiness,forthatmatter).Evenafter severalgoodyears,youwillprobablynotbecomewealthymakingcheese—but youwillhaveapricelessqualityoflifeandhopefullybeabletopaythebills! Someofthesequestionsmayseemextreme,buttherealityofthelifestyleofa farmsteadcheesemakerisattimesverydifficultandintense.Ifyouansweredyes, evenifitwasasomewhatreluctantaffirmative,toallofthequestionsinthequiz, thenyouarequitelikelywellsuitedtotheprofessionoffarmsteadcheesemaker. Butifyouhaveanyhesitationinembracingtheseconditionsasahugepartof yourlife,thenIwouldencourageyoutoenjoythisbook,tourcheesefarms,eat farmsteadcheese,makeyourowncheeseathome—asahobby—andhavealife!

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THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THE LEAP

Learning the Craft
Sowheredoyoulearnhowtomakecheese?Moststartlearningwheninundated withpailsandpailsofmilk—inotherwords,outofnecessity.Butwhenthehobby isabouttobecomeaprofession,otherresourcesshouldbeexplored.Learningthe artofcheesemaking,aswellasthescienceandsafetybehindtheprocess,through experiencedteacherswillhelpensureyoursuccessasabusiness. There are several venues in which to learn both the art and the science of cheese aking(seeappendixAforalistofresourcesforcheesemakereducational m opportunities): • Books,Internet • Universityshortcourses • Privateworkshopsandclassesgivenbycheesemakersandeducators • Apprenticeship/internshipprogramsatworkingfarmsteadcreameries • Travelingtoothercountrieswithstrongcheesemakingtraditionsto researchtraditionalpractices Inmoststatesabusinesscanbealicensedcheesemakingfacilitywithoutthe proprietorhavingspecialtrainingasacheesemaker,butinsometherearestandardized requirements. For example, in order to obtain a cheesemaker license inthestateofWisconsin,specialtrainingregulationsapply,includingupto18 monthsofon-the-jobworkasacheesemakerassistant.Besuretoinvestigateyour state’slawsinthisregard.(Moreonthisinchapter2,“MakingItOfficial.”) Manycheesemakerscontinuallyseektoexpandtheirknowledgeandmasteryof thecraftlongafterobtainingalicense.Enteringcompetitions,seekingtechnical reviewsoftheircheese,takingcourses,subscribingtoprofessionalpublications,

LIFELONG LEARNING
Alyce Birchenough, founder and cheesemaker of Sweet Home Farm in Elberta, Alabama, hasbeenmakingheraward-winningraw-milk cheeses for more than twenty years. When Alyce and her husband, Doug Wolbert, built their small cow dairy in the mid-1980s, there werenotasmanyoptionsavailableforlearning astherearenow.AlycefoundherfirstinformationthroughtheMinnesotaFarmsteadCheese Project, an extension service project that was designed at the time as a value-added opportunity for farmers. She also relied upon backto-the-landproponentCarlaEmery’sbookThe Encyclopedia of Country Living (stillinprintand up-to-date today). In addition, she attended a cheesemaking course at the University of Guelph,inOntario,Canada(ahighlyrespected programthathasbeenofferedsince1956). Alycesaysthatoneofherbestteacherswas “lots of trial and error.” Even after twentyone years of success—including numerous American Cheese Society first-place awards— Alycecontinuestoseekouteducationalopportunities: She has taken courses at Cal Poly Pomona,WashingtonStateUniversity,andthe VermontInstituteforArtisanCheese(VIAC), as well as attending American Cheese Society conferencesandeducationalsessions.

What's So Special about Farmstead Cheese?

15

and communing with other cheesemakers are all viable routes for continuing education.Keepingyourknowledgeexpandingandyourawarenessoftheprocess growing will help to ensure the quality of your products as well as your own personalandprofessionalgratification.

Being a part of a growing culinary tradition is exciting!Thanks to the perseveranceofahandfulofAmerica’soriginalartisancheesemakingcompanies,the groundbreakingforaysofthecheesemakerpioneersoftheartisanrevival,andthe increasedawarenessandadmirationofthelifeofthesmallfarmer,itisnoweasier thanevertobuildathrivingfarmsteadcheesebusiness.Asyoureadthefollowingchapters,however,youwilllearnthatitwilltakefarmorethanexcitement andawarenesstoensurethatyourcheesebusinessbringsyoubothfinancialand personalsuccess.

About the Author Gianaclis Caldwell, alongwithherhusband,Vern,andtheirteenage daughter,Amelia,ownsPholiaFarm,situatedintheverdantRogue Valley of southern Oregon, where they make aged cheese from the milk of their Nigerian Dwarf goats.The twenty-three-acre, off-thegridfarmandforesthavebeeninCaldwell’sfamilysincethe1940s. Caldwell’s critically acclaimed cheeses have been featured in books, articles,andtop-tenlists.Sheisaformernurseandmixed-mediaartist.

About the foreword author Jeff Robertsis co-founderand principal consultant to theVermont InstituteforArtisanCheeseattheUniversityofVermontandlivesin Montpelier,Vermont.

GREGORY REDFERN

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