Today we visit with Allison Hooper of Vermont Butter and Cheese. Allison and her business partner Bob Reese started out making fresh goat cheese nearly 25 years ago and have since brought a myriad of European style dairy products to the American market. We spoke with Allison about the transformation of her own business and progress within the American cheese industry.
Vermont Butter and Cheese Interview
You can read other Cheese by Hand posts about Vermont Butter & Cheese here.
Up next: Willow Hill Farm
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February 10th, 2008
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