Our friend Peter is the NYC Sales and Marketing Manager for Consider Bardwell Farm (@considerbardwellfarm), a 300-acre sustainable dairy farm in southwest Vermont. Fun fact: Consider Bardwell was the first cheese-making co-op in Vermont, dating back to 1864! Their animals graze on fertilizer-free and pesticide-free grasses, and are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones. And the resulting raw milk cow and goat cheeses are award-winning, and delicious! You can find them at Murray’s, and also at the McCarren Park and Union Square Greenmarkets where you can meet Peter in person!
What’s your business in ten words or less?
Award-winning raw milk cow and goat cheeses, sustainably produced.
What’s the most important thing we should know about your business?
Our commitment to sustainability guides our business plan, our relationship to the earth and our community, and our commitment to creating the best possible product from the best milk.
Best part about being in the food industry?
Sharing cheese with strangers.
What is your biggest challenge in relation to your business?
Expansion has to be incremental and extremely conservative in cheese—your product must be aged between two and fifteen months before sale, and your supply of milk can’t be turned on and off like a faucet.
WANT TO BE FEATURED ON BEHIND THE PLATE?
DOWNLOAD THE FOODSTAND APP!
Who is your food inspiration?
Worst part about being in the food industry?
Weather at the farmers markets can be less than ideal sometimes.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Practicing saxophone more often.
How do you define good food?
Well-raised, well-sourced and well-made.
Who is one famous person, dead or alive, that you want to share a meal with? and where?
An elegant dining room, eating Ortolans with François Mitterrand.
What’s always in your fridge?
Your good food wish?
That people understand the cost of cheap food and enjoy the value of good food.
Favorite dish using your product?
Pizza with goat chorizo and our Pawlet cheese.
Tell us about Dorset.
Dorset is our washed-rind, raw Jersey cow cheese. Maureen Brown tends to this cheese—she started working for us this year. She goes into the cave 3 times per week for 3 months—picks each wheel up, inspects it, and gives it a wire brush salt scrub before flipping it and putting it back on the rack. Each washing sessions takes 4-5 hours.
Talk to us about cheese aging.
Cheese is like spoiled milk covered in mold. It’s about controlling spoilage and controlling mold growth in a way that benefits the product.
And the caves?
We built different temperature and humidity controlled rooms for each cheese because each cheese benefits from perfect conditions. Rupert, our oldest cheese, needs generally drier conditions and lives in a cave we call Siberia. And these caves are all kept at temperatures higher than refrigeration. Cheese storage temperature is one of those grey areas where artisanal traditional practices butt up against contemporary ideas of food safety. Cheese can be stored at up to 50 or 54 degrees because that’s the temperature at which the cheese develops flavor.
Do you have different breeds of goats?
Breeds of goats are a crucial part of having a dairy farm. There are hundreds of different breeds of goats from all over the world. Some are better breeds for meat, some for dairy, and some for different climates. We started with a Swiss breed called Oberhasli, really pretty goats—mostly brown and black. They have little black knee stockings and look like school girls. Eventually we brought in some other goats, though for a while it was a closed herd which is one of those coveted things for a dairy farm because you have no outside genetics. You have full control over how the breeding is working. But then we brought in French Alpine and Nubian goats which are great for a little more yield. They’re a little hardier too.
How does goat meat play into this?
Goat meat and calves and beef are an essential part of dairy because if you’re raising animals to produce milk they need to have kids or calves once a year. We started selling our goat meat at our stand about two weeks ago.