Bonnyclabber Cheese Co. More Cheese Please!
Our cheese business is taking off, and we need to expand! We need to finish our pasteurizer, and put in a second inspected kitchen
Who are You?
We are Rona, Tim and Cole Sullivan. In the year 2000 we purchased our farm with the intention of starting a small sustainable family farm, that would use traditional methods of cheesemaking, to produce a unique product. Rona spent many months researching the traditional method of acid coagulated cheese, named Bonnyclabber, by Scot-Irish immigrants. Much of this research was in provenance, and process, but there was a fair amount of convincing needed to prove to regulators, that an old-world, raw milk process was suitable for a modern marketplace. Our orignal designed placed our entire operation in a 12'x24' structure which was split into three separate rooms, to make it one of the smallest grade A dairies in existence. We have continued working in this format since 2003 when we first opened for business.Through many trials and tribulations, we have continued on, operating for the most part, on a shoestring budget.
What are you hoping to do?
The popularity of our cheeses has steadily grown to a point where it is time to grow ourselves. We would like to do this while doing our best to remain as small and agile as we can, and hold to our original model. We intend to convert our turn of the twentieth century barn, (actually it was a Coca Cola bottling plant) into a second inspected kitchen for production. It would also include a space for holding small classes, and hopefully a space on the second floor for possible interns/helpers. In addition we will be upgrading our milking parlor to make it easier to handle the larger quantities of milk we'll need, to make larger batches of cheese. We will also finish our pasteurizer/cheese vat which Tim has been working on to make our processing more efficient, and expand a line of pasteurized cheeses we have developed. Last but not least we can't forget the girls. We need to finish some of the housing we have started, add additional pasture, and hopefully erect one more structure to store hay and other essentials.
What would my donation do?
While we have already purchased a number of the items we would need to get things going, we still need building supplies, and some specialized dairy equipment, to pull everything together. Also, we find that we will need to pay some helpers to do some of the work that we had hope to do ourselves. Experience has taught us that you can't do everything, and keep production going.
When will you be finished?
If our funding is reached, our intention is to start work in November 2012, and have everything completed by Spring of 2013. We will concentrate on dairy items first, as we should have Does freshening in January 2013, with everyone back in production by Spring.
Why do you want to do this?
We continue to be committed to our original vision of producing a natural, sustainable product, in a traditional old world method. We will also be able to add a second product which turns around in a shorter time period. This, we have found is essential to our sustainability. We would also like to focus more on teaching some of these methods to others who want to learn them. The methods Rona has re-discovered, are treasures of our ancestors, that should remain alive.
Thank You to everyone for their continued support!
Risks and challenges
Every phase of expansion has inherent risks and challenges, and the risks in an agricultural endeavor are unique.
Not only do we have to execute a renovation of an existing structure, and redesign of our milking parlor; we have to do it all while maintaining production, and taking care of our coworker/friends, who make it all possible, namely our beloved herd.
One thing we've got experience in is working on the fly. Tim has years of experience in the building trades, and has maintained a network of folks with whom we can connect with for advice and support. We have also developed a strong group of willing helpers who have already signed on to assist, just because they believe in the concepts of small, family owned farms.
Many of these ideas we have had on the drawing board for quite awhile, and have researched, and re-researched the best way to complete them! All of the planning that requires licensing or regulations have already been approved by the appropriate authorities, so we anticipate no issues on that front.
There are always things, that no one can predict, such as weather, or illness, both of which we have worked around for a long time. Such is the nature of farming.
We have had many of the components for expansion in place for many years, and have completed some as we can on a budget. We now only require adequate funding to bring this phase of our project to fruition.
If we are fortunate enough to raise more than what we are hoping to raise, we have already begun planning for a third phase that would include plans to take the entire operation off-grid, using solar, and wind energy, as well as a biofuel burning generator.
- (30 days)