As the demand for quality food increases in America, it has become important to learn about the origins of the food we are consuming. Additives, growth hormones and genetically engineered produce are of increasing concern to Americans. I am working on a personal project which highlights some of the farms that are focusing on quality over quantity, with the main focus being on their innovative efforts to be environmentally friendly and community oriented.
One outstanding farm that I had the opportunity to visit recently was Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT. The Cellars at Jasper Hill allows farmers to be farmers. Through a collaboration with state dairy farms (which have dwindled over the years due to tough economic times), the Cellars at Jasper Hill takes over the marketing, sales, aging, housing, packaging and distribution of cheeses produced by 10 local farms. The overhead of cheese production is so high, that many struggling dairy farmers can not support the extra cost. The Cellars has discovered a successful and community oriented business model that seems to be working wonders for Vermont’s dairy industry.
I recently photographed the farm and cheese cellars and interviewed the owners of this family run business. It is a beautiful story of a family dedicated to saving the dairy industry in Vermont through an innovative business model. Their business has helped many dairy farms stay a float and their cheeses are, of course, phenomenal and have won many prestigious awards. (A day prior to my visit, three chefs from Gramercy Tavern in NYC were there visiting the cellars for the week.) The business is dedicated to producing quality milk and cheeses and the owners are eco activists who have become popular for their community based approach to business.
An image of one of the owners, Mateo Kehler, will be featured in the October 2010 issue of Wine Spectator.