We love cows – and we love making cheese!
This fall is the 20th anniversary of Liz’s first licensed batch of cheese. Over that time, we’ve grown to milk 40 Jersey cows and make approximately 50,000 pounds of cheese a year. We’ve developed new recipes, won awards, and built our business – thanks to customers like you.
Now we are looking toward the long term, both for our business and for the future of dairy farms in our area. We know that we cannot reasonably increase our own herd size – we don’t have the land or the infrastructure to support that. We also know that there are some outstanding dairies in our area that are struggling with low milk prices. Buying their milk will strengthen all of our businesses.
To do this we need a new processing area. In Connecticut, we can’t legally make raw milk cheese from another farm’s milk, so we need a pasteurizer, a milk tank, a cheese vat, and an expanded work space. We will continue to make our beloved raw milk cheeses with our own milk, but this also gives us the opportunity to do something exciting – adding new types of cheese that our customers have asked for and increasing production of styles that we can’t keep in stock! We plan to start with a variation on our very popular Vivace Bambino as well as a cloth bound cheddar. Then, we will introduce fresh products to catch the flavors of each season - like fresh mozzarella to go with the summer tomatoes and cheese curds for winter soups. Over the next few years, we hope to add in burrata, bloomy rind cheeses, and fromage frais.
The plant improvements will allow us to continue making our top quality raw milk cheeses alongside the new pasteurized cheeses. We are also excited that the improved facilities will have viewing windows into the cheesemaking process as well as a new space for a cheese shop! We will have a bigger space to taste and talk cheese and feature many great local products like fruit preserves, cured meats, crackers, and more!
All of this costs money. We have lined up a grant from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture for nearly $49,000. A grant from the USDA will cover some of our non-capital expenses like marketing and operating costs over a two year period, allowing us to free up a portion of our own funds to contribute to the project.
But that still leaves us a little short. We are asking for your support to help us make this important transition. Our crowdfunding goal of $60,000 will allow us to buy a combination vat pasteurizer and artisan cheese vat. With your generous assistance, we can reach this target and more!
Our stretch goal of $77,500 will, in addition to the cheese vat mentioned above, allow us to buy an energy-saving and labor-saving “COP tank” – basically a large dishwasher for cleaning cheese equipment better and far more efficiently than we do now by hand. If we meet our stretch goal, every backer at or above the $25 level will receive a coupon for 20% off their next purchase at the farm shop or our farmers market stands.
A second stretch goal of $105,000 will allow us to invest in climate control equipment for our new aging space. This new space will be more carefully controlled than our current cave, providing a great environment for aging bloomy rind cheese and an area for a slow aging, creamy blue cheese. If we meet the second stretch goal, every backer at or above the $50 level will receive a limited edition "Cave Dweller" tote bag, allowing them to carry their support of cheese aging everywhere.
Risks and challenges
Land preservation restricts our borrowing eligibility as it reduces the development value of the land. We are proud that in August 2008 our farm was placed under the protection of two easements. The federal Grasslands Reserve Program protects our pastures from cultivation or development, ensuring that they will remain open space. A conservation easement from the Connecticut Farmland Trust prohibits the development of the rest of the farm. These easements reduce the value of our land in the eyes on a bank, limiting our ability to borrow. We need your help for crowdfunding to ensure the long term viability of our farm on this land!
A second challenge that comes with developing and introducing a new line of fresh milk products is ensuring that there is market demand. We have surveyed our individual customers, restaurant food buyers, chefs, and cheesemongers to know more about what they would like to purchase from us. Their enthusiastic responses inform us as we plan for new cheeses. We hope to ensure an exciting and successful introduction of new cheeses by first starting with styles we have decades of experience making and know people are eager to buy. Then, we will introduce newer styles of cheese on a seasonal, limited basis.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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