A Room with a View and a View into the (Creamery) Room
In just a few days we went from a concrete pad to a framed creamery building!
Cheese makers often talk about the balance of artistry and science in cheese making. The framing design is the balance between artistry and science in creamery building. Certain aspects of framing are dictated by mathematics: doors need to be wide enough for equipment to pass through them, aging rooms need dimensions that accommodate the volume of cheese they will house, blocking between wall studs needs to be in place where shelves will be mounted. And then you have windows, more importantly you have the view from windows… that is where aesthetics come in to the design! Sure, you could argue windows provide light to work by, but with strict candle foot requirements for each processing room dictated by regulating agencies windows aren’t really going to be sufficient in most cases. What windows really contribute to the design is a view and a connection with the outside world!
I have worked in creameries without windows. It sucks. When the only light you work with is artificial you lose the ability to follow the passage of time, both daily and with the seasons. Cheese making is about seasonality and how milk changes over the course of the year. Sure I can still appreciate that technically, my milk solids analyzer will give me the data whether we have windows or not. However I think I have a greater appreciation for it when the environment affecting the seasonal variation of milk is in plain sight. I’m also a dairy farmer. As much as I love cheese making it can’t quite compare to working with the animals (I have yet to experience a cheese nuzzle me when I’m having a bad day or scoot up close for a good rump scratching). Sadly the principles of good sanitation, both for food safety and cheese quality purposes, mean when I’m making cheese I have to keep my distance from the animals. At least with windows I can still watch them while I work. I think the views from the pasteurizer room/raw cheese making room and raw cheese aging room will be my favorites since they have views of the buck barn, the milking doe pasture, and the milking barn. The view from the cheese draining table in the pasteurized cheese making room is pretty impressive too… three large windows give a panoramic view onto the vineyards and the hills that wrap around the valley.
We put multiple windows into every room, pretty much everywhere we didn’t need the wall space for shelving or equipment will hold a view out onto the farm. They are also a view into the creamery. One of our goals from the start has been to incorporate tours of the farm and creamery into our business plan. For the same hygiene reasons that I can’t go back and forth from animals to creamery we don’t want to actually allow visitors into the creamery itself. Instead we opted to make every facet of our cheese making visibly accessible from the outside. Visitors will be able to see where milk is received and pasteurized, curds being molded or drained, pressing of cheeses, drying, and each of the aging rooms. The only space without windows is a closet sized room in the very center that will house lab equipment (pH meters, the milk solids analyzer, incubator for plating bacteria).
So there you go, a diversion into the art of building an artisan cheese creamery.