The Caves at Jasper Hill Farm
Jasper Hill Farm, known for producing some of the finest cheeses in the U.S. undertook an ambitious project about 4 years ago to build what are now called The Caves at Jasper Hill.
Driven by as much by their entrepreneurial spirit as by their dedication to sustainable agriculture in Vermont, brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler now offer one of the keys to success for Vermont dairy farmers.
Recently, independent dairy farms have been squeezed by a monopoly of coops and distributors to keep their prices low even as their operating costs continue to rise. This has resulted in the loss of over 500 dairy farms since 2004. Cheese has historically been a good way for these farms to diversify their revenue but moving into the business of not only making but also aging, marketing and distributing the cheese is a high barrier to entry.
The Caves at Jasper Hill will reduce this barrier by taking care of the aging, the marketing and the distributing. Cheesemakers now deliver their cheese to the farm at which point it gets put into one of the seven aging caves and is cared for until it is ready to be sold and sent to a customer.
Jasper Hill already has a customer list that reads like a who's who of the culinary world. With the caves and a revamped logistics network, cheesemakers will be able to reach restaurants, retailers and distributors previously unavailable to them.
Mateo and Andy believe that there is room enough in Vermont to support three additional such operations spread throughout the state.
Jasper Hill recently hosted an opening ceremony at the farm which made clear the broad support they enjoy from cheesemakers, dairy farmers, cheese mongers, Vermont politicians, the USDA as well as family and friends. The Caves are now open and Jasper is already aging hundreds of wheels of Cabot's clothbound cheddar along with cheese from various other Vermont producers. A lot went in to the building of these caves and we hope there will continue to be a lot going into these caves in the form of cheese.