Black Friday Class Special

Give the gift of learning this holiday season by taking advantage of our special Black Friday offer.

We take pride in our commitment to educate and engage with our community, reconnecting our neighbors to the land and the source of their food. We offer a wide range of classes, both demonstrative and hands-on, each designed to teach you new skills, give you new ideas, and expand your thinking on food and the land from which it comes.

Classes are 10% off- All day today!

Foraging the Farm

Last September we collaborated on a Foraging Class that included a four course wild food tasting menu with local chef Ben Walmer. It was so well received that we promised to forage again in spring!


Learning about wild edibles, and the sustainable way to harvest them, gets you out into the woods and fields, focusing on the myriad types of green and woody things around us. Perhaps foraging won’t make a dent in urban food desserts anytime soon. However, the change in mentality, the idea that healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive or come from a fancy store, is a big leap in the right direction.

Someone pointed out to us that our foraging class was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, so by popular demand we have moved it to the following Sunday, June 5. We’ll take you on a walk out onto the farm, talk about wild edibles, and show you what’s popping up right outside our own backdoor.

Be prepared to eat tasty bites! BYO…

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

We are knee deep in planning our year’s classes and events. Tamara is setting up expanded cheese making sessions and we are talking with local chefs, restaurateurs, and food fanatics about collaborating on farm dinners and other educational opportunities.

Self-sufficiency seems to be the 2016 theme: home cheesemaking, DIY homesteading techniques to help you stretch the harvest, and seasonal foraging. All good skills should you ever need to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Check out our plans and register here.


Three Days of Cheese-making, Part II

Part II: A Tale of Two [Failed] Cheeses

It all started last year, following the long-standing success of our Ricotta-Mozzarella class. People obviously love to make cheese at home, so why not teach them something new? Now it’s one thing to write curriculum and type up recipes. It is quite another to execute three cheeses, with different ingredients and different timing, all at the same time. I love a good challenge, but teaching this class blind seemed like a really bad idea.

I set about testing the recipes and configuring the timing, and my first run was a disaster. Many hours and several gallons of milk later, I was no closer to making cheese than I was before I started. In fact, I might have been a little farther away, since I now had more questions than answers. cheese cartoonCottage Cheese
I again started the cottage cheese first. I used the Junket Rennet, dissolving a full tablet in ½ cup of water, using half and setting half aside for the basket cheese. Once again, when I heated the resulting curds, they seized into a gritty, squeaky, stretchy mass. Fail!

Basket Cheese
Three hours after beginning the cottage cheese, I heated milk for the basket cheese, adding the rennet I had set aside. After two hours (more than twice as long as it should have taken to coagulate) I still had milk. At the tail end of the night, after everything else was cleaned up and stowed away, I finally threw in the towel, added some lemon juice, and turned it into ricotta.


Swapping out the homemade vinegar for organic lemon juice: success!

The cottage cheese was a conundrum: obviously the rennet worked, so that wasn’t the problem. But the rennet didn’t work with the basket cheese, so it was the problem – at least with the one cheese. To troubleshoot this second batch, I pulled in another consult: Vince, our cheese intern. When I asked him what causes that texture in a cheese, he explained that when the acidity level is too high, it causes the cheese to seize too quickly, resulting in the gritty texture. When asked what causes high acidity, his answer set off the light bulb that caused my freefall into cheesy enlightenment, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to make the Farmstead Cheese class a success.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s cheese-making finale, If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Three Days of Cheese-making

This past two weeks I have been running trials for Sunday’s Farmstead Cheese class. And if I have learned one thing from all this trial and error, it’s that cheese is not magic. Now I know from teaching other cheese-making classes that I’m not the only one to suffer from cheese failure, so for all you home cheese-makers out there, I present to you Three Days of Cheese-making, and how it all pulled together.

Part I: On the First Day of Cheese-making…

It seemed easy enough: follow the recipes, configure the timing, presto! cheese. Imagine my surprise (and foot-stamping frustration) when all three of my cheeses failed. All three cheeses failed. Even fool-proof paneer. It was maddening.

frustrated kid

Even more maddening was the lack of definitive answers. I wanted someone to tell me, “THIS is why your basket cheese never coagulated, and THIS is why your cottage cheese turned into gritty goo, and THIS is why your paneer took twice as much vinegar to curdle.” I turned to head cheesemaker Paul, and through our conversation started to grasp that there are a lot (and I mean a lot) of variables that factor into whether a cheese succeeds or fails (newsflash: even professionals don’t succeed 100% of the time), and if I was going to successfully and simultaneously execute these cheeses with a class of students, I would have to Dick Tracy the situation.

Cottage Cheese
Of the three, this cheese takes the longest to make, so I started it first: heating the milk, adding the culture and rennet, letting it rest. When I returned hours later, I still had milk – the cheese didn’t coagulate. I did exactly what Paul told me was the one thing I shouldn’t do, and added more rennet. When I heated the resulting curds, they seized into a gritty, squeaky, stretchy mass – not cottage cheese.

Basket Cheese
This cheese requires only rennet in order to coagulate, and I found myself with the same problem as with the cottage cheese: the milk didn’t coagulate.

The easiest of the three, paneer requires a simple acid to separate the milk into curds. Not able to find any apple cider vinegar (I swore I had some somewhere…), I used the only acid I had on hand: a homemade wine vinegar from a corked bottle of expensive French red. After nearly a cup, the milk still hadn’t curdled.

Now I remember from high school science class that the key to troubleshooting any experiment is only changing one variable at a time. Change multiple and you won’t know which caused the original problem. I knew my paneer problems had to do with the vinegar I used: there wasn’t enough acidity in the homemade vinegar to cause the milk to curdle. Change the acid, and the cheese should succeed.

It was also fairly obvious with both my cottage and basket cheeses that the rennet was too weak to coagulate the milk, so I started looking for a local place to buy rennet. I ended up with Junket Rennet from Whole Foods, a standard custard and dessert rennet that’s been used by our mothers and grandmothers for decades. New England Cheesemaking Supply frowns on using this for home cheesemaking (in fact, they deny that it even can be used successfully), but I’m a chef, and believe food rules were made to be broken. Naturally, I plowed ahead anyway.

To Be Continued…

Did I make the right adjustments? Does Junket work to make cheese? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post: A Tale of Two Cheeses

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