Cheeses from Sterling College-area creameries won big at the 33rd annual American Cheese Society (ACS) show, held on July 29, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (RFC) celebrates these wins, as one of its main foci is collaborating and developing programs with local businesses, landowners, and not-for-profit organizations to build academic partnerships that broaden the College’s curricular offerings and strengthen the regional food and agroecological systems.
The Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont, took home first place for their cheeses Harbison, Moses Sleeper, and Winnimere. Their Cabot Clothbound Cheddar won third place, and the cheese Greensward, which is aged by Murray’s Cheese Shop in New York City, won third for Best in Show.
“We are thrilled with our showing at this years’ conference; the ribbons we took home represent years of hard work by our teams back home in Vermont,” said Mateo Kehler, cofounder of Jasper Hill. “From milk production, to cheesemaking, to affinage, it took the coordinated efforts of dozens of people striving for perfection in their work to garner this recognition. We don’t do it for the awards, but these accolades have refreshed our drive to make all of our cheeses just a little bit better every day.”
Jasper Hill’s win comes before the winter session of the successful “Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese” course, now in its third year of partnership between Jasper Hill and Sterling College. Jasper Hill’s May session of the course, featuring instructor Ivan Larcher, kicked off the inaugural year of the School of the New American Farmstead, Sterling College’s new continuing education program centered around integrated, community-centered farming and food production.
Vermont Creamery, co-founded by Sterling College Trustee Allison Hooper, was awarded first place blue ribbons for Bijou, Feta, and Crème Fraîche; their cheeses Bonne Bouche, Quark, Fresh Crottin, Mascarpone, and Cultured Butter with Sea Salt and Maple won second place; and the Classic Spreadable Goat Cheese took third, all in their respective categories.
Hooper said about their big night of wins: “These awards are a reflection of the collective hard work of our farmers and the dedication and expertise of our cheesemakers; recognition by ACS is a source of great pride for our company as we continue to grow and perfect our craft.”
Sweet Rowen Farmstead, owned by alumnus Paul Lisai ’06, also took a first for their Mountain Ash cheese. “We’re thrilled and amazed by this latest win,” said Lisai. “When we started in 2012, we had eight cows and processed 50 gallons of milk a week. Now we have a 40-cow herd and process between 800 to 1,000 gallons of milk per week in the summer.
Rian Fried, the late co-founder of Clean Yield Group, Inc., and Sterling College Board of Trustees member, was committed to having Sterling build strategic partnerships with local non-profit organizations and businesses engaged in sustainable agriculture. He actively encouraged connections between the College and the burgeoning entrepreneurial agriculture and artisan food enterprises in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The ongoing partnerships with local, award-winning creameries are inspired by his belief that collaboration is the key to our collective growth and by his support of speaking forcefully about important food-related issues.
Marian Burros, former journalist at the New York Times and a fellow Sterling Trustee, said, “Rian did more than anyone to bring town and gown together, working tirelessly to connect the sustainable agriculture community…with Sterling College’s sustainable agriculture programs.”
The ACS is the leading organization supporting the understanding, appreciation and promotion of farmstead, artisan, and specialty cheeses produced in the Americas. This year’s competition included 1,685 entries from 248 companies across North America.