Sustainability can be a problem at many dairies, but in this blog series intern Alicia gets the deets on some eco-friendly cheesemakers from across the map. Find out what makes each cheese green, and enter the weekly contest for a chance to win an issue of culture. Congrats to last week’s contest winner, SICA!
The issue of sustainability is a multi-faceted one. Many sustainability problems – such as methane pollution, energy use, and water consumption – pertain to the global environment as a whole. But one creamery is looking a bit closer to home.
Grafton Village Cheese, of Brattleboro, Vermont, is a for-profit cheesemaker; but all of their proceeds go to the Windham Foundation, a philanthropic society founded in 1963 by Dean Mathey, a wealthy banker with family ties in the area. His mission was to revitalize the town, and now Grafton Village Cheese has a mission to promote Grafton and the rural communities of greater Vermont through a variety of programs.
Meri Spicer, director of sales and marketing at Grafton Village Cheese, says she enjoys working for a company with an altruistic vision. “Even though we work just as hard as everyone else does, it makes you feel good that proceeds are going towards the community.” And Grafton Village Cheese has a long history of community of involvement.
Founded in 1892 as a co-op, dairy farmers came together to make cheese as a way to keep their excess milk from going to waste. When a fire destroyed the factory in 1912, it was left unused until the Windham Foundation restored the company in the 1960’s.
Today, Grafton makes award-winning raw milk cheeses, in keeping with their company’s tradition. “We think it makes a better cheese,” Spicer says. Their milk comes primarily from Jersey cows, and Spicer explains that it’s “higher in protein and butterfat, which helps define our flavor profile.” Their specialty is cheddar, though they do offer other varieties, which they sell along with other local organic products in their Grafton and Brattleboro retail stores.
Grafton Village Cheese receives milk from nineteen local family farms, all of which emphasize healthy herds. “If their herd is healthier, it’s better economically for them and it produces better milk, which produces better cheese,” Spicer explains. Grafton Village Cheese even has a premium program, in which farms are rewarded based on their herd’s well-being.
But what does the company do for the community (besides make delicious cheese)? Their philanthropy is as varied as their history. They host cultural and educational events for the community. Last year they donated 3,000 pounds of cheese to local food banks and $100,000 to their milk suppliers. And they have a grant program for local non-profits. Spicer adds, “We don’t look at other cheesemakers as competition, we support other enterprises in Vermont.”
This week’s contest question is: How would you like to help your community if you had unlimited time and money? Submit your answer in the comments below by Thursday, April 3 at 12:00p.m. EDT for a chance to win the current issue of culture. The winner will be chosen at random and announced in next week’s Green Cheese post.
Tune in next week to hear from Landmark Creamery, a Wisconsin cheesemaker that supports the environmental endeavors of others in the community.
Photo by Grafton Village Cheese