During the month of May, in celebration of American Cheese Month, we’re spotlighting some of our local cheesemakers. These small producers keep our cheese case well-stocked with their unique, handcrafted cheeses. Each one has a unique story, and a true passion for the craft of cheesemaking.
We are so appreciative to Jeremy Stephenson, expert cheesemaker at Spring Brook Farm, for taking a few minutes to fill us in on how things are going at the farm.
Q. Can you tell us your name and your role at Spring Brook Farm?
A. My name is Jeremy Stephenson and I am a cheesemaker and have been responsible for the cheese operations overall for about 14 years….since we started making cheese.
Q. What can you tell us about the history of the farm?
A. Spring Brook Farm is owned by the Farms For City Kids Foundation which operated an educational program each year bringing 500-600 fifth and sixth graders for a week-long stay each year. https://farmsforcitykids.org/
Q. How and when did Spring Brook Farm first get involved in cheese?
A. We started making Tarentaise cheese in 2008 in collaboration with Thistle Hill Farm. Over time we started making Raclette (Reading) and Morbier (Ashbrook) styles.
Q. What makes your product unique or special?
A. Our cheeses are inspired and informed by traditional French alpine cheesemaking methods. The milk supplied for the cheese comes from herds which are put out on pasture and fed a non-fermented diet of dry hay and grain through the winter months.
Q. Who is your head cheesemaker and where did that person learn their craft?
A. We have just hired a new lead cheesemaker named Emily Buckley who previously was the lead cheesemaker at Landaff Creamery until they closed their doors at the time the owners retired. We are very excited to have Emily on board to carry our history of high-quality cheesemaking forward.
Q. What are the most important things to you in the cheesemaking process
A. High quality milk is critical, followed closely by consistency in following your chosen process for reaching your flavor and texture target. Cleanliness and food safety are very important also. Really, good cheesemaking is the result of many, many things done properly and repeatedly rather than any one ‘most important thing.’
Q. How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted your business?
A. Covid slowed our sales down tremendously and resulted in a great loss of sales. However, things are looking up as we go into 2021.
Q. Anything new or exciting coming up at the farm?
A. Yes, the cows are about to go out on pasture!! Always a great time.
Q. Do you have a desert island cheese?
A. Not really. I like to mix it up. Any good, well-made cheese is welcome at my table.
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A. Yes, just a call out to all the great shops like the Woodstock Farmers’ Market who are so critical to the survival of small dairies and cheesemakers! Thank you!
Haven’t had a chance to try Spring Brook Farm cheese, or are you already a convert? Through Sunday, May 16th, all Spring Brook Farm cheeses are 10% off!