Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro, VT, Orleans County
2013 Working Lands Capital and Infrastructure Grant Recipient - $50,000
The Cellars at Jasper Hill built a microbiology laboratory to identify, analyze and grow indigenous microbial strains for their cheese producers, and to develop and operate an artisan-scale culture house, which is an industry currently nonexistent in North America. Prior to the project, Jasper Hill took the time and laid the groundwork through research efforts with microbiologists at Harvard University, who have studied the diverse microflora of their cheese rinds, and endemic microbes in their facility.
The goals of the project are to create the infrastructure for a new industry in the United States, ultimately marketing new products to domestic partners while improving their understanding of endemic microbes and their effects on flavor development. Jasper Hill is measuring the goals by the number of new products and services created, the number of new clients as well as by the correlations identified between individual strains and beneficial traits in a finished cheese.
The project has created two new jobs; a staff microbiologist, and a quality manager, who works closely with the microbiologist to monitor and manage cheese quality while evaluating trial results and process improvements. This project has had a substantial positive financial effect. Their improved quality program has enabled them to make better cheese, which has increased their sales. This increase has led to increased business with their distributor customers and their retail clients, and their need for growth has led to adding new positions at the Cellars as well as increased work with local contractors. Their sales have also led to increased demand for fluid milk; late last year they purchased Andersonville Farm, from whom they were already purchasing milk, which includes 600 acres of agriculture land and five dairy jobs. In addition, they will be bringing several new farms online for milk and/or cheese production in the next three years, starting with a 300 acre plot in central Greensboro. These businesses will bring more revenue and jobs to their region, and the Cellars can provide a sure place in the market for their product.
In November 2014, Bayley Hazen Blue was awarded “World’s Best Unpasteurized Cheese” at the World Cheese Awards in London, finishing in the top 16 out of 2600 entries. The market response has been impressive; they’ve increased production and will be building another farm in Greensboro in the coming year to continue to do so. Other notable awards included a blue-ribbon for Harbison and a 2nd-place ribbon for Alpha Tolman at the 2014 American Cheese Society conference (in their respective categories). At the Big E fair & competition in Massachusetts, every cheese they entered took a ribbon in its category. With their improved ability to monitor and increase cheese quality, they’re better positioned to capitalize on these opportunities with increased production or sales in new markets.