North Country Creamery
We are delighted to offer grass fed dairy now! It’s always exciting to connect to other small farms with similar practices and offer delicious products that a lot of you have requested. We are now carrying plain and maple yogurts along with Raw Aged Tomme, Feta, and Havarti cheeses. (We are also carrying grass fed butter, but that is for another post.)
Not only are the farmers at North Country Creamery committed to caring for the land and treating their animals respectfully, they are providing employment for several people in their community. As I pulled into the parking lot by their cafe, I saw Ashlee and Steven and the five people they employ full time, along with a new friend or two, outside lingering late over their lunch together. Turns out that their communal breakfasts and lunches are a daily ritual. I gladly accepted the delicious soup the cafe chef had prepared and then enjoyed my tour through the farm.
Ashlee and Steven run their 20 cow dairy near Ausable Chasm where they produce rich milk, delicious yogurt, and a variety of artisan cheeses. They met in 2006 and have been farming together for 6 years.
“I became inspired to milk cows while working at Farm in Wilderness in 2006. So I worked on organic dairy farms across VT until 2011. I love the routine and closeness with animals that’s inherent in dairy farming. With a stroke of luck and encouraging friends, I landed on this property which the previous owner (“Clover Mead Farm”) had been utilizing for making several varieties of cheeses. We received a NOFA grant to hire him as a mentor our first year, so that he could teach us the tricks of the trade. I hadn’t made cheese on a commercial scale, so there was certainly a learning curve to the process. We’ve honed in on our 8 favorite cheeses to make and those that we’ve been most successful with, and added the creamline yogurts.
In 2014 a friend approached us about introducing a cafe to our enterprises. Our first year we ran it as a farmstore, but the previous owner had run it as a cafe so we decided to re-install some equipment and make it happen. We decided to call it the Clover Mead Cafe to pay homage to the previous owners and Clover Mead Farm. We currently operate 4 enterprises (dairy herd, creamery, cafe, & lodging), but they are legally all one business. I am the current single owner, but we are seeking to form a cooperative. Hopefully it will extend ownership to all the employees who are interested. We are working with the Cooperative Development Institute to figure out the details, so we have lots to learn over the next couple of years. We actually have 11 employees right now as we enter the peak of our season! About 5 full time employees. We’re really excited about visioning with [the cafe manager] (and everyone who’s interested) regarding the cafe and other enterprises in the future! We’re focusing on creating a comprehensive vision statement this summer.”
Below is a glimpse of their endeavor as I saw it at the beginning of May.
Ashlee and Tulip
The milking parlor accommodates five cows at a time.
The cleaned equipment is ready for the next milking.
The bulk tank stores the milk before it is moved into the yogurt and cheese making room.
All is orderly and clean in the cheese and yogurt areas.
The boards for the cheese cave are curing.
The stairs to the treasury.
The farmers–Ashlee and Steven.
If you are ever in the area, they would be delighted for you to stop in at the cafe!