Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WV Small Farm Conference, Day 1

Gosh, where do we begin... We had a great time at the WV Small Farms Conference!  Day 1 was spent in a Cheesemaking seminar.  In the morning there was a presentation by Brian Stone from Northboro, MA.  Brian has traveled the world helping farmers make better cheese.  He reviewed all the dos and don'ts, the rules and regulations.  We learned, for example - Raw Milk cheese has to be aged 60 days or longer according to FDA rules;  there is a PMO - Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (who knew); and to sell cheese from your own milk, you must become a certified Grade A Dairy.
After a wonderful lunch, we had a brief visit with Beth Kennett from Liberty Hill Farm in Vermont.  This would be the first of three times that we heard Beth speak.  She is a remarkable lady, but more about her in a later post.  This is after all.. all about the cheese. 

Spring Gap Mountain Creamery Tomme Cheese (their photo)

The afternoon session began with a panel discussion with Brian; the WVDA; the Health Dept; Callie and Ben, start-up cheesemakers; Vince, maker of Mozzarella, from Hancock County; and Penny and Jurgen from Spring Gap Mountain Creamery, in Paw Paw.  This was really interesting as they talked about their operations, mistakes they have made and the challenges of being Artisan Cheesemakers.
We were a little disappointed that the seminar was not more hands-on, but we signed up for a follow-up seminar that is to include the actual making of cheese.  We ended the session with, of course, a cheese tasting!  Talk turned to wine and cheese, but Brian informed us that real cheese tastings are accompanied by beer.  We shared some of Vince's Mozzarella balls, several cheeses from Trickling Springs Creamery and a couple from Spring Gap Mountain Creamery.  They were all delicious, but the favorite of both Shepherdess/s was the Tomme Cheese from Spring Gap Mountain Creamery named Shenandoah Sunrise.
We spent the evening at the Winter Blues Farmers Market - good music, lots of local food - pretty much the perfect ending to a pretty much perfect day.

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