Cave to Co-op June Special: Harbison from Jasper Hill Farm

harbison

Harbison

Pasteurized Cow Milk
Bark-Wrapped Bloomy Rind
Jasper Hill Farm
Greensboro, Vermont

Andy and Mateo Kehler started Jasper Hill Farm in 2003 – the genesis of their effort to find meaningful work in a place they love. Their connection to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont evolved from generations of their family visiting and living in Greensboro – a sleepy village on the edge of sparkling, secluded Caspian Lake.

The verdant agricultural landscape of the area is at the core of its economic and cultural identity, typified by the small-scale family dairy farm. Unfortunately, the pressing needs to preserve agricultural soils and Vermont’s working landscape is likewise punctuated by the dairy farms’ struggle to compete with a national, commodity scale market. Jasper Hill Farm was imagined as a ‘value-added’ strategy for earning a dependable and fair return on high-quality milk – a model for small-scale profitability.

Cave to Co-op June 2013 2The Kehlers quickly found that their achievement in finding meaningful work revealed a score of new challenges particular to the farmstead cheesemaker. The most burdensome tasks at Jasper Hill turned up after the vat – cave work, sales administration and travel, packaging and shipping logistics – all crucial, though intensely time-consuming. Cellars at Jasper Hill is a piece of infrastructure they designed to help farms reach and succeed in a national marketplace: a bridge between small-scale production and large scale markets.

The building itself is a network of seven underground vaults – a total of 22,000 square feet nestled beneath the pastures where Jasper Hill’s forty Ayrshire cows graze. Each cave rests at distinct temperature and humidity levels, calibrated for different cheese styles. Developing wheels undergo a customized testing, tasting and affinage schedule before getting wrapped-up at their target age profile.

By offering a collection of professionally aged and marketed cheeses, Cellars at Jasper Hill allows its producers to focus on the most important aspects of their trade – quality milk production and cheesemaking technique. This focus on precision and specialization is the foundation of the Cellars aim to be the standard bearer for quality and innovation in the artisan cheese industry.

Harbison is a bark-wrapped bloomy-rind cheese with woodsy, sweet, herbal, and bright flavors. The Kehlers named the cheese after Anne Harbison, seen by many to be the grandmother of Greensboro, VT. She’s active in the community, runs a bed and breakfast, and volunteers at the public library, and has known the Kehler brothers since they were children. The bark, cut from Jasper Hill Farm’s woodlands holds the delicate cheese together, provides flavor to the creamy paste, and allows for an ideal presentation as the centerpiece of a cheese plate.

Here is a December 2011 article about Harbison from the San Francisco Chronicle by renowned cheese expert Janet Fletcher. It just about says it all: Harbison born of experiment at Jasper Hill Farms

Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provision International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers.  The NFCA is a network of more than 20 food co-ops in our region — including yours — that are working together to advance their vision of a thriving regional economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and a vibrant community of co-operative enterprise.  For more information, please visit www.nfca.coop.

 

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