NEW GOAL -- $25,000
See below for what we can do with $7k more!
Help us Complete the a Cheese Cave for Essex County!
(check out the update section for breaking cave news!)
Thank you in advance for taking the time to watch our video and read about our project.
With extra help from Kickstarter:
WE WANT TO START RIPENING CHEESE BY NOVEMBER!
We are Elizabeth & Peter Mulholland and we have been making goat and cow milk cheeses on our historic family farm since 1998.
Increased demand, production limitations and a desire to make additional styles of cheeses has us at a point where we need to start aging cheese in a traditional style underground cave. The cave is underway through some advanced funding from the Massachusetts Farm Viability Program, but we need help to close up the front of the cave, backfill, build retaining walls, regrade and install the shelving and other cheese aging equipment inside so we can start adding cheese.
An energy efficient, geo-thermal cave buried in the hillside next to the milking parlor and dairy will allow us to expand annual production to 20,000 pounds or more and develop new and delicious aged style cheese like tommes and cheddars. Other cheese makers will be able to age their cheeses as well and the front of the cave will serve as a place for people to learn about cheese making, buy cheese and enjoy our share in farm life and fellowship.
Valley View is a farmstead cheese operation where we raise a modest number of Anglo-Nubian goats (we've grown from 2 to 36 milkers) giving them the best possible life we can. We milk them twice a day and turn their milk into cheeses in a dairy we built inside the existing barn. Bottle raised from birth in our kitchen, out on pasture, and fed a varied diet (they are quite picky), our Nubians produce a high butterfat, sweet tasting milk, that is ideal for cheese making. They are a loquacious, curious and social breed that loves visitors.
Our whole family participates in the farm and cheese making. Liz is "jack of all trades" at the farm. She manages the health and breeding program of the goats, the ordering of supplies and paperwork of the farm and dairy and milks, makes, packages, markets and delivers the cheese. She also has successfully written a number of grants that have helped move the farm forward as a vibrant part of the food culture of the area. Liz's mother Mary, takes care of the 70+ kids born each year, delivers the cheeses to restaurants, shops and farm stands and balances the check book. Peter milks every morning, does most of the heavy farm labor and construction projects, hays neighboring fields and is the designer of the recipes that we follow. Our children, Andrew and Henry, participate fully in the life of the farm and are often found helping packaging cheeses and make good salesmen and tour guides on open farm days.
We could easily just stay with making fresh style cheeses, as they are readily and happily consumed by our surrounding community. Chevre and feta have a "quick turnaround" in terms of the making process, but because of their higher moisture content, they have a smaller window of peak enjoyment or what the French call "a point." Because cheese is really always in a constant state of change due to the different bacteria, enzymes, environment, and many other factors -- and we love that challenge, for many years we have dreamed of having a space where could help craft and cultivate cheeses in a more gradual way, using the native environment and ending up with a cheese that has a broader window of enjoyment. In a nut shell, aging cheeses is really concentrating the aromas and flavors and textures of any cheese.
No surprise to anyone, it absolutely costs more to develop these kinds of cheeses. The investment in producing "old-world style" aged cheeses is high --the experimentation time and risk involved just to find out after three or six or 12 months that the cheese doesn't taste very good (a risk we find that is lessened, if not down right impossible with the magical Nubian milk), let a lone the decision to sink $100k in the ground is daunting. But we believe that we can make the "old world" style cheeses right here, in our community, for our community and we believe in the long run the decision to do so in a traditional way, instead of with energy consuming walk-in coolers is a better long-term choice, with a better design to meet our aging needs for the cheeses we want to craft.
HOW YOUR PLEDGE CAN HELP
With your pledge, we can fulfill the following goals of our project:
To create the ideal, traditional space for aging cheeses made from the best goat milk we can produce and the best cow (and hopefully, some day, sheep's milk) we can find nearby.
To create an education space where people can come for tours and learn about cheese making (and farming) because they are just interested in how it is done, where chef's and aspiring cheese mongers can learn, or because they too have a desire to fulfill a dream and farm and make cheese.
To create a retail space where we can retail the fine cheeses we make, the cheese of other local cheese makers as well as other products we make at the farm or source from nearby farms.
To create a larger work space that with increased production will provide the opportunity for internships, volunteerism and farm and food jobs.
To create a community space where we can come together in fellowship to celebrate and enjoy the bounty and fruit of our labors.
We need your help to finish the last stages of the project. With the two MA Department of Agriculture grants and our personal investment (and lots of sweat equity), the hole has been dug, the concrete arches have been set in place, and the utilities, drainage and ventilation have been brought over to the structure. Now we need to backfill, build the front facade, construct the retaining walls to hold back the earth, craft the shelves for the cheeses out of ash boards, outfit the space with other necessities and put the landscape back to rights.
We believe the rewards we have chosen best represent who we are and what our blessings are as farmers, cheese makers and members of a community. We thank you with the cheeses we make, by opening up our farm, dairy and home to you to learn about our life, the goats and the products, and by enjoying fellowship together, we believe we are expressing the essence of the relationship between you and us, your local farmer and food artisan.
If you're interested in more than one reward or want to give a higher amount than the highest reward, simply add up the total value of all pledges you're interested in, pledge that amount (or more) and email us to let us know which rewards you want.
We encourage you to let your friends, family and acquaintances know about our project and thank you for any personal endorsements you might make to them on our behalf to encourage their support as well.
Thank you for helping us enhance our cheese offerings, grow our farm, expand our outreach and continue to be part of such a wonderful community.
Risks and challenges
What if we aren't good at making cheese and the cave has to become a root or wine cellar, garage or the ultimate "man-cave"? Just "kidding", after fifteen years of crafting amazing, fresh style goat and cow's milk cheeses like chevre, feta and Camembert, we are totally confident that we can create the wheels of cheese curd that need only to be transformed by time and tender care in the cave. So really, the biggest risk is that the cave is designed improperly so the conditions aren't conducive to proper mold growth and the magic that makes aged cheese. We have studied other applications for many years and worked with other professionals and believe we have designed the appropriate systems to ensure proper temperature, humidity and ventilation for the best possible cheeses.
SPECIAL THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE
(without your help we wouldn't be at this point)
Kindra Clineff Photography-- all the photos in the project
Elias Bouquillon/ShamRockin' Records-- the Video!
ChiveEvents Sustainable Catering - the fall harvest supper past and future
Julia Frost -- technical and moral support
D.W. Philpot Construction-- Dan is instrumental in helping us realize the vision
Contech Engineered Solutions, LLC -- the concrete guys!
Paine Creek Excavating, Ipswich
Thank you to our many volunteers: Charlie, Eric, Eugene, Sam, Sheryl, Dick, Nancy, Jody, Steve, Kindra, Tim, Karen, Tina, Sabina, James, Frank, and so many more.
Without you all we couldn't realize anything we do at Valley View Farm
Thank you for helping us to carry out our vision and make the best possible cheese we can!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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- (30 days)