The first stop of the day was to Eureka Satellite, LLC, a project owned and operated by brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler of Jasper Hill Creamery. The project we visited is a hay drying facility and solar array system (still under construction). The Kehlers' main product is artisan cheese, which is their key focus. Mateo explained to the group why they prefer to feed their cattle dry hay versus grass silage and why it makes a difference in their cheese. The hay dryer is quite an innovation and depending upon the moisture content of the hay when it is harvested, takes anywhere between five and 12 hours for drying. It's the first of its kind in the U.S. and was imported from Germany. You can read about the Kehler's installation here.
|Mateo Kehler addressing the group.|
|Yankee director Brad Maxwell checking out the equipment.|
|Group shot, L-R, Yankee director Rocky Giroux, Mateo Kehler, Derby branch manager Loren Petzoldt, Andy Kehler, Yankee CEO George Putnam.|
|Group waiting outside the hay drying facility.|
|A cheery mural on one of the main walls in the main building.|
|The group toured several acres of production and is heading back toward a building currently being installed with solar panels on the roof.|
|Tim Fishburne from Pete's Greens led the tour through the operation.|
|A bulletin board announcing the day's lunch at the entrance to dining hall.|
The Food Venture Center is a multi-use processing facility. The center is an incubation space for food businesses. Over 60% of the rents paid to the facility comes from farmers. Jasper Hill is a core tenant producing cheese at the facility. The center offers support services to clients as well as recipe development, co-packing services and process development. The Food Venture Center also has food chemists available for users if needed to develop their product. Currently over 30 businesses are using the facilities for production.
|Connor Gorham (third from left) and Sarah Waring giving an overview of the Center when we arrive.|
|Connor using a mural as a prop to explain.|
|A display of products from some of the Center's clients.|
Our last stop of the day was Kingdom Creamery of Vermont, LLC. Located in East Hardwick, Vt., Kingdom Creamery is a family business owned by the Michaud family - Denis and Claire along with sons Jeremy, Travis and Daniel and their families. The creamery produces premium ice cream, soft serve mix, frozen yogurt and yogurt made from milk purchased from the family's dairy farm, Claire-a-Den Farm. Their own maple syrup is also featured in many of their products. Products are marketed under their own and private labels for other companies. Their product can be found in grocery stores and scoop shops all over New England and New York. Quite often they attend local events and festivals where a family member - maybe even a grandchild - will scoop your cone for you.
|Leslie Michaud, Jeremy's wife, and Claire Michaud happily scoop ice cream for some anxious onlookers.|
|A pint ready to be filled in the assembly line.|
|Jeremy Michaud (right, in royal blue) explaining a process to a few tour goers.|