What are we doing?
We are creating a cheese room to turn our organic milk into delicious, farm-fresh yogurt and cheese.
Who are we?
We are Rebecca and Philip Brand, and with the generous help of many friends and family members, we run Brandmoore Farm. We met while slaughtering chickens on a farm in 2011, and got married and started Brandmoore in 2012. This January we welcomed baby Thomas to our family.
About our farm We lease a small house, several barns and 200 acres of rolling pasture on what was once a commercial dairy farm. It’s a special place, because the open land has been preserved and yet we are right on the New Hampshire seacoast, with so many people and opportunities nearby.
Our farm is diverse. We currently milk 12 cows, with plans to double that number by the end of 2016. We bottle the milk directly into glass bottles, which we sell from our farm store. We grow 6 acres of vegetables, operate a CSA, and raise pigs and chickens. The farm is certified organic.
We are proud to be a small, working dairy farm. It wasn’t too long ago there were four dairy farms here on Sligo Road. Now we are the only one in Rollinsford, and one of the few left on the seacoast. We believe our farm has a value to our town and community beyond the products we sell. We both love to farm and feel very fortunate to be able to do it.
Why a cheese room?
One of the benefits of being a small dairy farm is that we can sell our milk directly to our customers. We receive a price that is sustainable for our farm, and the community receives the freshest milk. One drawback: our milk supply varies considerably throughout the year, for example we have more milk during the spring and fall due to better pasture, and also when we have more cows giving birth to calves. It’s a real challenge for us to have enough milk but not too much. It’s a dilemma with a wonderful solution: preserve the milk in the form of yogurt and cheese! Making cheese when we have extra milk is something we’ve dreamed of doing since we started the farm.
This is now our fifth season of farming. We have grown our herd of cows considerably since the first summer when we were milking 4 cows by hand. We have built a strong relationship with our landlady, and feel confident about being able to stay on the property and farm here in Rollinsford for years to come. And then we came across the perfect cheese making vat for us, via a retiring goat cheese maker way up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Small-scale used cheese equipment is difficult to come by, so we jumped on the opportunity, took out a loan and picked up the equipment earlier this year.
One challenge of leasing a farm is how to tackle capital improvements. We need to make considerable investments in the barn to create our cheese room, but because we don't own the property, it is difficult for us to get more traditional financing for this project. We believe a community-funded project through kickstarter fits well with the community focused nature of our farm.
How much? $15,000.
What will it be used for? There is plenty of work to do to prepare the cheese room. We need to bring the space up to code, which starts with redoing the floor and establishing proper drainage. Next we will take down an interior wall to combine two small rooms into one larger one, and panel the walls with a washable and sanitary paneling. We aim to cut a window into the exterior wall for lighting and ventilation. Then we need our dairy equipment guy to set up the vat, which includes running stainless piping to transport the milk, and tying the vat into our hot water burner so we can heat and cool the milk.
What products will we make in our cheese room?
We will start with what we know how to make best, which is yogurt and greek yogurt. Our first cheese will be a soft, farmstead cheese (what different cultures call “Quark,” “Fromage Blanc,” or “Queso Blanco”). This delicious, spreadable cheese is straightforward to make and doesn’t require aging, so will make a great beginners cheese. We also plan to make fresh (cheddar) cheese curds and a hard cheese, like Gouda or Cheddar. We look forward to experimenting with different great cheeses and find what we like best!
In advance, we want to thank you for considering a donation to the farm. We appreciate the support!
Risks and challenges
Bringing the construction up to code could be more difficult than we thought. We have checked with the electrician, the vat installer and contractors to make sure we have a good idea of how to progress to make the necessary improvements. We have experience troubleshooting equipment issues and when we first arrived to the farm we navigated the installation of our milk tank/equipment. Throughout the process, we were introduced to the experienced people able to help us figure out the issues.
Cheese making will bring its own challenges and we will once again be on a learning curve. Once we are up and running, we are dedicated to learning and experimenting with different cheeses. We both have experience making cheese at home and we've been making yogurt and Greek yogurt for a few years. We are looking forward to the cheese making experience and we will take any opportunity to learn.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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