2019 MOSES Organic Field Day Recap

 

Begin a Farmstead Micro-Creamery

Thursday, May 23, 2019  |  10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.  |  Free 

 

Cosmic Wheel Creamery @ Turnip Rock Farm
260 95th Street
Clear Lake, WI 54005

 

By Stephanie Coffman

We learned a lot about establishing a micro-creamery from Cosmic Wheel Creamery farmers Josh Bryceson and Rama Hoffpauir, who shared their journey to bring value-added products to their vegetable CSA. We happily donned booties and hair nets to tour their cheesemaking and aging rooms and see the inner workings.  Note:  While  Turnip Rock Vegetable CSA is Certified Organic, the creamery is not. However, sustainable agricultural practices are also used in their grass-fed dairy operation.

 

 

 

Highlights from the day:

    1. The key to Josh and Rama’s success with their creamery venture is that they already had the marketing infrastructure in place because of their pre-existing vegetable CSA. They shared that a very important strategy is to share your farm story with your customers. People aren’t just buying cheese, but the story of how and where it was made. Currently they direct-market via online CSA sales, farmers markets, and an on-farm store.

     

    1. Cheesemaking is an art that can take much trial and error to master. The beauty of the product is that no one batch is exactly the same, being influenced by the dairy cow’s time of lactation and diet. As an example, Rama shared a story about how the cows had gotten into their post-harvest broccoli plot for a day. After they were milked she opened the bulk tank and got a giant waft of broccoli “fart” from the milk. After much debate with Josh, she decided to go ahead with making cheese from it. The result was some wonderful sweet notes in the cheese due to the broccoli!

     

    1. Making your state inspector your teammate, not adversary, can go a long way in the success of your micro-creamery business. Make sure to include them from the very beginning of the process. Cheesemaking training is required by the state to produce and sell dairy products from your farm.

     

    1. Research! Research! And more research! Before jumping into anything, take the time to educate yourself about all that is involved. Schmooze with experienced cheesemakers and ask lots of questions. Be thrifty while acquiring necessary creamery equipment by starting with used equipment that can be found through avenues such as Craigslist and other classifieds.

     

    1. Holistic farm management has made adding the micro-creamery successful for Josh and Rama. Through trial and error they have found the right size herd and management style that helps them maintain the quality of life they want while having a successful business. Choosing to milk their cows seasonally and only once a day, as well as assigning nurse-cows to take care of calves instead of having to bottle-feed them, has all contributed to this success.

 

Want more information? Click here to view a detailed handout created by Josh and Rama.

 

THANKS:

Our farm hosts: Josh Bryceson and Rama Hoffpauir

Our meal purveyor: Farm Table Restaurant

Our event sponsor: Wisconsin Farmers Union, which currently is conducting research to create more training for state inspectors about small on-farm creameries

 

 

Presenters:

As a child, Josh Bryceson saw his family forced out of farming in the 1980s farm crisis.  He was later exposed to sustainable and organic agriculture while serving in Americorps and gained an appreciation for integrated agriculture including livestock while working for Heifer Project International.  He apprenticed on CSA vegetable farms in hopes of learning how to have a successful farm become his livelihood.  He helped to establish and then managed the CSA for the Minnesota Food Association for several years before starting Turnip Rock CSA with Rama Hoffpauir.

Rama Hoffpauir met Josh and then decided to pursue agriculture as a career after being in a CSA work share at the Minnesota Food Association. Trained as an artist, she found her desires to problem solve, be creative, and work with her hands all satisfied in the field of sustainable agriculture.  She later began cheesemaking and thinks of cheese and other food from their farm as temporary works of art that fuel the pleasure, growth, and pursuits of the people enjoying the food.

Josh and Rama began Turnip Rock CSA in 2009 and Cosmic Wheel Creamery in 2015.  Turnip Rock CSA began as a vegetable CSA and later added eggs, meat, and finally cheese to their offerings while creating a whole-farm ecosystem with each endeavor complimenting the other.  Their children, Otto (8) and Sadie (5), assist them in farm work along with a wonderful farm crew.

 

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