Posts filed under 'Audio'
This is the first cheese producer that I’ve posted about here and spoken to without visiting their operation. It is definitely a different experience and it presented some technological challenges like recording a phone conversation with decent enough quality to then serve it up on the web for others to hear. Steve and Karen Getz of Dancing Cow Farm were gracious enough to give this newfangled method a chance.
My interview of the Getz’s was prompted by a short cheese write up that I did for a fantastic, food website: thestrongbuzz.com which is relaunching with a new design (and my cheese blurb) in a couple weeks. It is somewhat focused on the New York food scene but its founder, Andrea Strong, writes about a breadth of food-related subjects. I wrote about one of the three cheeses produced by Dancing Cow Farm (Sarabande) and then spoke with Karen and Steve about how they got into farming, their approach to dairying, and of course, their cheese.
We started out talking a bit about how Dancing Cow is run, the farm is certified organic although their cheeses are not. Their decision to become certified was largely about financial stability within the fluid milk market. Organic milk prices are not only higher than those for conventional milk but are also much more stable. As you listen to this clip I think you’ll find that it is clear that they are also motivated by a desire to do right by their herd and the landscape.
About the farm
This next clip might be my favorite because it touches on some of the challenges that the farmers really struggle with, things we would not think of when considering all the potential hurdles to pass in starting a dairy farm…things like naming your farm and your cheeses.
How the farm became Dancing Cow
Producing beautiful, clean and flavorful milk and transforming it into cheese are just the beginning for this new generation of farmers. In today’s savvy food market, the farmers also have to understand how to talk about their cheeses with consumers. Often it is small cheese purveyors, who are deeply committed to the industry, walking the farmer through their first batches of cheese- helping them refine and make them more desirable in the market.
Learning to speak “cheese”
The final clip touches on something that I think it truly the next wave in the artisan cheese industry, the advancement of an infrastructure that will not only support producers in distributing their cheeses but also in marketing and even aging their cheeses. Dancing Cow Farm is part of the first group of farmers partnering with the Kehler brothers at Jasper Hill Farm. Jasper Hill has constructed a massive, in-ground cheese aging complex that will undoubtedly alter the landscape of cheesemaking in Vermont let alone its impact on the entire industry.
Partnering with Jasper Hill
February 5th, 2008
Today is our interview with Michael Lee at Twig Farm. Twig Farm is in West Cornwall, VT. Michael and his wife Emily moved from Boston to West Cornwall and have been making cheese for over three years. Very much a small farm operation, Michael milks 25 goats seasonally (meaning they are dried off in winter months) and purchases some cow’s milk from neighbors. They make aged, raw milk cheeses, creatively named: Twig Farm Goat Tomme, Square Cheese and Soft Wheel.
Twig Farm Interview
You can read other Cheese by Hand posts about Twig Farm here.
Up Next: Vermont Butter & Cheese
As a reminder, you can subscribe to Cheese by Hand on iTunes and have the interviews automatically downloaded to your computer / iPod. Just search for Cheese by Hand in the iTunes Store and click on Subscribe… iTunes will take care of the rest!
Also, thanks to Matty Charles who generously allowed us to use his music!
January 22nd, 2008
Today is the first of our audio installments from our four month trip around America visiting small scale cheesemakers. Jasper Hill Farm is in Greensboro, VT. The farm is run by brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler. They are milking 40 cows and producing five raw milk cheeses. Currently they are nearing the end of construction on a massive in-ground cheese aging complex where they will age their own cheeses along with those from other established Vermont cheesemakers. We interviewed Mateo Kehler outside the make room after a day of cheesemaking.
Jasper Hill Farm Interview
You can read other Cheese by Hand posts about Jasper Hill Farm here.
Our goal is to publish a new podcast every 10 -14 days and can be found here or on iTunes.
Up Next: Twig Farm
Also, Thanks again to Matty Charles who generously allowed us to use his music!
January 1st, 2008
One of the general sessions this year was about cheesemaking in the Northeast. Clark Wolf who has a NYC based company that does restaurant and hospitality consulting was our moderator and did a great job of synthesizing information from the three presentations and posing broader questions to us all at the end. Louis Aird of Saputo in Montreal shared the history of cheese production in Canada with us and Jeff Roberts, author of the Atlas of American Artisan Cheese shared some facts and statistics about cheesemakers in the Northeast that he’d collected during his research for the book.
My ten minute talk was based on findings from our tour last summer. Below is a basic outline of my talk with audio pieces laid in where I played them. Have a read and a listen.
The Cheese by Hand lens: Our project only looked at producers making cheese by hand. We made every effort to cover the major milk types- cow, sheep, goat- and to represent the density of cheesemaking in certain regions (i.e. we saw more dairies in Wisconsin, Vermont, and California than anywhere else).
In the Northeast we visited the following farms in this order: Jasper Hill Farm, Twig Farm, Vermont Butter & Cheese, Willow Hill Farm, Appleton Creamery, Westfield Farm, and Cato Corner Farm. All are first generation cheesemakers, two are farmstead, three use milk from their own herds and buy in milk to supplement, and two are purchasing all of their milk.
These producers are, in many ways, representative of those we visited around the country- they come from diverse background and face many of the same issues as their colleagues in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and even the South. I’ll cover three larger topics that came up everywhere and explain to you how the Northeasterners had a unique perspective on each.
First: The loss of landscape. This includes not only the land but all the services that support farms- large animal vets, mechanics, and slaughterhouses). The audio clip below features Michael Lee (Twig Farm), and Willow Smart and David Phinney (Willow Hill Farm).
Loss of Farms
The terminology- working landscape- is something we only heard in the Northeast. Maybe their connection to the landscape comes from an awareness of the rich history of dairying and farming in the region? Ultimately on this issue we felt that the producers in this area were ‘on message’ meaning that everyone had similar thoughts and desires to see the land back in use for agriculture.
Second: An eye towards their competition (Europe). Cost of Business clip starts with Allison Hooper (Vermont Butter & Cheese), Caitlin Hunter (Appleton Creamery), Michael lee (Twig Farm). Educating the public starts with Caitlin (AC), Debbie Stetson (Westfield Farm), Mateo Kehler (Jasper Hill Farm), Michael Lee (TF).
Cost of Business Educating the public
Cheesemaking is expensive everywhere but the reference point for NE cheesemakers is always Europe- whether they are discussing healthcare, cost of infrastructure, or subsidies. This may happen because the two big markets are NYC and Boston, both of which have a bounty of imported cheeses. One stinging factor is that there is a perception that most European cheeses are made by hand- Michael Lee pointed out in another part of our interview that EU cheeses that are made in the way he makes his cheeses in Vermont would not be cheaper. There is a serious educational component for these cheesemakers- not just about cheese but about the state of agriculture in our own country.
Third: The concept of local. This word is as loose as “natural” or “artisan”- listen to how differently it is used by these producers. Some call their products local when all the inputs are local and some use the term local to define the inputs and the market where it is sold. In this audio clip you will hear Michael Lee (TF), Mateo Kehler (JHF), and Mark Gillman (Cato Corner Farm).
The NE region is going to push the word local and possibly force it to be defined. Again, this has a lot to do with the two big metropolitan markets within (NY, Boston) because clientele there can support the reclaimation of the working landscape. NE was the only place where we heard producers talking about AOC cheeses- about products that must be created in a specific place- maybe also a result of the proximity and comparison to European products in the market.
In closing- some thoughts from NE producers about unifies them and what they imagine is in store for the future of artisan cheesemaking… You will hear Willow Smart (WHF) and Michael Lee (TF).
August 9th, 2007
I know that Comic-Con is in full swing down in San Diego, but up here in Portland we have our own love-fest going on! ACS (American Cheese Society) is rocking it! Cheesemakers from all around the country are mixing it up with retailers, distributors, writers and all around cheese-heads for four days of non-stop cheese eating!! I have heard more than one person say it is like meeting rock stars!
Sasha and I gave a talk Thursday about our project and played some audio for the crowd. It was a quiet crowd… we took the silence in the room to be a good thing - that they had absorbed all they wanted and were leaving more enriched than when they entered… OR they were thinking about lunch! Either way it was great to get the message out and be able to play clips from some of the cheesemakers.
Below is a piece we edited just for ACS. Along the way we have asked the cheesemakers if there is anyone they would like to thank for helping get them where they are today. We then put together a seven minute montage of their responses. This represents around 15 cheesemakers of our trip.
For ourselves we would like to thank all the cheesemakers we have visted and will visit for opening up their operations, farms and homes to us.
Hope you enjoy.
July 23rd, 2006
Here are two audio clips from our interview with Andy and Matt at Fifefly… about making the move to Firefly and being exposed to the farming community. each are around 1 minute.
loss of farming jobs
July 5th, 2006
Below are three snippets from our conversation with Bob and Debbie Stetson at Westfield Farm. They talk about their decision of buying the farm (literally) to antibiotic in cheese…
Buying the farm
Antibiotics in cheese
July 2nd, 2006
So audio takes a while to parse through… that is why we are just now getting to Appleton Creamery! These were all recorded while Caitlin made cheese (the metal noise is her stiring the heated curd). Each is around 1 minute.
Why they sell local
June 21st, 2006