Eco-friendly cheese

Natural grass-fed cheeses make Bobolink Dairy a leader in sustainable farming — and taste

By Josh Bishop

The folks at Bobolink Dairy are passionate about cheese, which is exactly what you might expect for a farm that produces 100 percent grass-fed cheeses and woodfired breads. Cheesemakers Nina and Jonathan White are committed to “promoting grass-based, sustainable, profitable, familysize dairy farming as an alternative to the industrial, confinement-based farms that typified the dairy industry in the late 20th century.” It’s no small task, but the Whites seem up to it.

Bobolink Dairy’s 200 acres of pasture provide plenty of grazing ground for the 30–35 cows that will be milked for the company’s cheese production, as well as a bumper crop of young heifers and bulls. The grounds also contain several barns, a farmhouse, and an apprentice house.

As part of being committed to sustainability and local artisans, the Whites believe that cheese should be designed to nourish the body and spirit. Unlike industrial cheeses — which are produced with an eye to ease and low cost — the cheese produced at Bobolink Dairy is full-flavored and natural. Bobolink produces cave-ripened cheddar, Baudolino, Bobolink-Foret (which is washed with a Belgian farmhouse ale), and seasonal short-lived cheeses.

Groups interested in sustainable farming, “locavore” cuisine, which is dedicated to regional foods, or the slow food movement — or anyone curious about the cheese-making process — can tour the farm, where they’ll learn how the animals, environment, and people can work together to make delicious products that are good for the environment. The practices at Bobolink Dairy increase soil fertility, limit carbon, and preserve the farmland for future generations.

Group members will be escorted along a pasture walk, where they can see the cows up close, grazing in the pasture. The cheese-making process will be explained, and groups may be able to see inside the barn, ripening room, and creamery. A stop at the bakery gives visitors a glimpse of the bread-making process and the brick oven where fresh loaves are wood-fired. The tour finishes at the farm store for a tasting of bread and cheese.

Regular cheese-making classes are offered into November. The early morning classes begin with a discussion of cheesemaking, beginning with the craft’s early history and extending into where it is headed. The process of making cheese at Bobolink Dairy will be explained, and the class finishes with the preparation of lunch in the wood-fired oven.

Groups of 20 or more should make advance arrangements for farm tours.•

This article was published in the Fall 2010 Northeastern issue of Group Tour Magazine. To see the full archived magazine, click here. Click here to print a pdf.