I left the Cheesiry feeling strangely like I’d just visited an old-world producer – and not simply because of the old-school pecorino they produce. There’s a wonderful vibe from the cheesiry being built into the heart of the family farm’s old cow dairy facilities which on a hot day offers a cool and patina’d experience – and stepping into their boutique where Rhonda will guide you through her creations certainly adds to the experience. Having decided at age 30 that it was time for a change, she uprooted and ended up in Tuscany making pecorino: sheep cheese. She’s carried the techniques – even her gear is custom built to replicate what she came to know at the Tuscan farm – back to Alberta’s sparse artisan cheese scene.
Rhonda and her husband Brian have a lot going for them. Youth, for one, but also the tremendous opportunity to carry on Brian’s family’s farming traditions in their own way. Takes guts. Their marketing is slick, their product oozes character and quality, and they have great help and support including an Austrian cheesemaker colleague helping in the Cheesiry, and an Aussie well versed in sheep husbandry helping them with their flock. The lot of them are in the process of changing our local food culture, one wheel of cheese at a time.
This is the most informative artisan cheese making video I have seen yet! Listening to Rhonda was mesmerizing! I cannot wait to get out there. Now, I have to find out what else is nearby so I can arrange another bus tour. This looks like a Taste Tripping trip coming on, to me!… or, a Slow Food Fieldtrip!
I can only imagine what you had for supper!
How interesting it is to hear almost every other producer speak of the lack of financial help from “farm based institutions”. Interesting thing was when we were conventional producers, losing money 7 out of 10 years, Farm Credit always gave more money to operate. Now as free range producers, Farm Credit told us the same thing “We aren’t a viable business and are high risk”. Strange since we turn a profit. I’m sure they will be knocking at your door soon enough since you are obviously doing very well. So happy to see more and more producers going out to left field and proving they are viable. There is a huge food movement. What a beautiful job you are doing. Love it!