Photographed by Adam DeTour | Styled by Kendra Smith
Eligo is a long, narrow, spring-fed lake between Greensboro and Craftsbury in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Its namesake cheese was a first for Jasper Hill Farm—a washed-rind brick made with local cow’s and goat’s milk—yet it is not the first of the creamery’s cheeses named for a nearby lake. “The lives of so many people in our community revolve around these bodies of water,” says Mateo Kehler, who owns Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro with his brother, Andy. Eligo, along with Lake Willoughby and Little Hosmer Pond “are loved and cherished places.” So, too, are their namesake cheeses, which exemplify the Kehlers’ mission to connect their entire enterprise to the landscape around them.
“We saw an opportunity with a mixed-milk cheese to come up with a different format than anything else we do,” says Kehler. Buttery and smooth with a hint of funk, Eligo is an ideal entry level washed-rind and an excellent melter. It is now one of three mixed-milk cheeses Jasper Hill makes in partnership with Ryan Andrus and Annie Rowden, formerly farmers at Cypress Grove in California who moved to Vermont in 2019 and began milking 400 goats at Bridgman Hill Farm in Hardwick. Bridgman Blue is a raw, natural-rind blue, and Highlander is a raclette-style cheese. All three are produced in limited quantities and are designed to be sold at cut-to-order shops.
“We weren’t looking to get into the goat cheese business, but Ryan and Annie are the picture-perfect profile of the kind of people that we’re looking to attract to keep our landscape working and for adding character and dimension to our community,” says Kehler. “Andy and I bought the farm, and they brought the capital and the knowledge. Cheese is a byproduct of the other work around here of regenerating agriculture and sustaining the landscape and the people.”