Day in the Life

Snow Day! Closed all day!

A wet snow is falling and everything is coated in a chilly stillness. Snow is supposed to continue into early afternoon.

Flights are cancelled, speed limits have been dropped on the area highways and bridges, heavy equipment will be out clearing the streets. On the farm, snow days can be a little harder on the animals, especially with wet snow and mud. Our farmers will be tending the herds and flocks, then digging the farm out from under.

Snowfall with sheep

Snowfall with sheep

To keep everyone safe and get the work done quickly, we will CLOSE ALL DAY (updated). e will see you tomorrow at the normal time, 10am to 5pm.

Thanks for your patience.

The Cost of the Journey

Earlier this month, we send a survey to our customers asking for their thoughts and feedback about our store, the products we offer, and. what we could do differently to better serve the people who love and support the farm.

There was a lot of positive feedback about how we farm, the variety of products (from our farm and other local makers) that we offer. Many customers expressed a deep commitment to local food and farms. We asked for suggestions about products we could bring in to round out what we already offer, basically what would serve the folks who support the store.

In all that feedback, a few people mentioned prices, and suggested that lowering the prices of the meats, cheeses and items for resale would be welcomed. We thought that was an issue worth talking about because we understand that is where the rubber meets the road.

Our prices are indeed more than what you pay in a standard grocery store. The US has been blessed with very low food costs. Much of that is due to large-scale subsidized commercial agriculture. A small farm (like ours) reaps neither the benefits of subsidies, nor the economies of scale you find on large commercial farms. What the consumer sees in our store is real cost of production.

moving hay bales

Moving hay bales.

It might seem like raising animals on grass would be cheap. After all, you just let them out in the field and the grass keeps growing, right? Choosing to raise animals on grass is a quality-based decision, rather than cost-based. Cherry Grove Farm practices intensive rotational grazing. Our animals do not free range the large pastures, browsing at will, rather they are cordoned off in smaller sections of pasture so they graze more efficiently. Cows are moved sometimes multiple times in a day, to make sure the grass is grazed evenly and given time to rest and rejuvenate. This rotation also means that 1000 lb cows aren’t standing in the same place-for a long time, compacting the soils, crushing plant roots, and piling up manure (each of which are hard on plants and soils.) Kept moving, cows spread their manure, and graze, more evenly. Our cows become part time farmhands, doing some of our farm labor. But lacking opposable thumbs, they are not a help with much more than mowing and manure spreading. Moving a herd 1-2 times a day takes hands to move and set up mobile fences, reset water lines, bring out the hay in winter.

We also don’t have one large herd of cows. Effectively, we have three herds, as not all the cows are milked at once, or kept together. Unlike a conventional dairy where cows are kept pregnant and milking almost constantly, our cows get rest periods in between pregnancies (that is the “dry herd”). We have the milkers, the dry herd, and the cows that are too young, or not able to milk, both heifers and young bull calves. That is three herds to be moved daily, all to keep the land healthy and productive. Healthy land produces healthy forage, which in turn makes for healthy cows. The quality of milk (or meat) you get from a healthy grass-fed herd is significantly different from conventional herds and we rely on great milk to make our cheeses.

Hooping curds.

Hooping curds.

So, we begin with higher labor costs than a conventional farm, add on labor to make hay all season, minerals and animal health supplies, additional processing costs around cheese making and meat processing/packaging, and then set a price with a reasonable margin for profit, because without profit we cannot sustain the business.

Much the same goes for our resale products, made locally by small-batch producers. None of the makers who are sold through our farm are large scale producers. All struggle with the cost of quality ingredients and valuing their time to make an outstanding, healthy product.  They set wholesale prices to cover their costs and labor (plus a little profit) and we mark up on that. We could buy a more mass produced product for less per unit cost, but that would fly in the face of what we believe and what we profess to you, our customer. We support local makers to ensure they are still making clean healthy foods for all of us in the months and years to come.

It seems upside down that a small farm down the road would have to charge so much more than a huge faceless company that ships foods in from everywhere. But our national food system evolved in this way, with the deck stacked for large agribusiness. In order to raise and offer a superior product, and to stay in business, we have to cover our costs with enough profit to pay our staff and keep investing in the business… so that we can be here offering you clean healthy foods in the months and years to come.

It’s a journey and we are glad to have you with us.

Wishing You All the Joy and Merriment of the Season

red-sunset-w-cows

The cows are milked, the Christmas trees have been sold, the cheese room is dark, we are getting ready to close up the store until Tuesday…

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are slowly calming to a merry twinkle.

All of us on the farm would like to wish you and yours a cozy holiday season full of good food, good people, and laughter.

Merry merry, happy happy.

Cherry Grove Farm

 

P.S. We will reopen the farm store on Tuesday at 10am. (LOTS of eggs will be on hand.) See our news feed for holiday hours.

Notes From The Vat

Sunny Salutations!
 
I’ll keep it brief as a thousand chummy chores await. Things are a happening! We are on the cusp of turning the ruins of an old aging room into a veritable Buttercup Brie fountain for the holidays. All that’s left is some sprucing up and in the cheese will go! Before and after pictures next week, I promise. This will mean we can soon push Toma production so I can make our washed rinds and Buttercup Brie available to more customers. Three cheers for progress!
 
Cheese Available:
Herdsman: Yes, Herdsman is back! Very limited  Mid June batch. Young but ready to savor flavors of barnyard, browned butter, and an aged cheddar-y sweetness about this batch. Raw Milk.
 
Buttercup Brie: Very LIMITED but we have it.
 
Lawrenceville Jack: Spring grass flavors with a hint of onion. Raw Milk.
 
Havilah: Toasty, browned butter, walnut and hazelnut flavors, to name a few. Savory notes but a caramel finish. Raw Milk.
 
Trilby: Getting to the last week or two of availability on this one. Snooze and you lose! Next batch wont be till November.Washed in Dad’s Hat local rye whiskey, then dressed in leaves (from the farm) soused in NJ apple brandy. Notes of beef stew, buttermilk and good ole washed rind funk
 
cheesemakers working

Look, it’s Vince thrilled to be hooping grass-milk Buttercup Brie

Looking forward to seeing you, as always!
Paul

1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens
MENU