FARMING FOR THE FUTURE
Drawing on the work of Rudolf Steiner, Bill Copperthwaite, Wendell Berry, and many others, Churchtown Dairy strives to create a community farm, worked by many and welcoming to all. A project of the Foundation for Agricultural Integrity, Churchtown Dairy brings people together to work on the land in a way that is regenerative for both the land and the people working it. Farmers, cheesemakers, growers, carpenters and administrators work together to create a whole-farm organism, in which work, challenges, opportunities, and joys are shared. We welcome you to join our community for an hour, an afternoon, or longer as a visitor or a volunteer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Located on 250 acres in Claverack, NY, the Churchtown Dairy manages a 28-cow Biodynamic dairy herd, with about an equal number of young stock and beef cattle. Comprised of Brown Swiss, Jersey and Guernsey stock, our cows eat a primarily grass-fed diet and are given a life as in tune as possible with their natural rhythm. Calves are kept with their mothers and run with the herd, causing a slight decrease in milk production but also reducing stress on both the mother and the calf and thereby contributing to the harmony of the herd.
Calves who are unable to be kept as replacement heifers are raised for ground beef or veal, with the same care and attention as is given to the dairy cows. We also keep a number of pigs who feast on excess milk and whey from cheese production, as well as grain and table scraps. We strive to create a whole-system farm, in which nothing is wasted and all is either eaten or properly composted.
Working with the rhythms of the land, the sun, and the farmers, we work to create a farm that is both beautiful and healthy for the land, the animals, the farmers, the water, and our surrounding community.
At Churchtown Dairy we strive to create high-quality ethically-produced cheeses reflecting the quality and strength of our Hudson Valley Biodynamic milk. Working with our herd of primarily Brown Swiss cows, we craft cheeses within a sustainable and Biodynamic framework that respects both the beauty and health of the living agricultural landscape and the animals and humans within it.
Cheese is a medium through which the milk can express itself, particularly when raw milk, with its inherent microbial populations, is utilized. Everyday we work with the milk to identify its strengths and weaknesses, what styles it is well suited for, and work with the farm team to optimize handling and treatment of the milk to maximize quality for cheese production, in order to produce cheeses that are both delicious and an expression of our unique terroir and herd.
Food safety is of paramount importance at Churchtown Dairy; for this reason we maintain a rigorous sanitation and hygiene program, including regular milk testing and weekly environmental testing for pathogens.
The creamery is also used to educate visitors about cheese and the farm’s mission as a whole, and in the future we will be hosting educational sessions, cheesemaker meetups and other events to encourage community-building and sharing.
To learn more about our cheeses please contact our Head Cheesemaker, Matt Spiegler, at email@example.com.
Currently our selection of cheeses includes:
A soft, creamy lactic cheese, similar to a farmer’s cheese or a fluffier cream cheese. Bright, milky flavors with a bit of tanginess. Perfect on a bagel or dolloped onto pasta.
Our feta is creamy, with a briny, complex flavor and a soft and crumbly texture. Enjoy it on a salad, melted on a pizza or tossed with fresh fruit and mint. (Note: this cheese is seasonally produced and may not be available in the winter).
The Bloomy is our cave-aged Camembert-style cheese, a soft-ripened, white-molded ¾ Lb wheel that starts out buttery and mild, with an even texture, becoming soft and gooey as it ages, developing mushroomy, brothy and nutty notes as it progresses. Enjoy a wedge on a piece of good bread or with a dollop of your favorite preserves.
Our semi-hard Tomme is firm, buttery and a little funky with savory and nutty notes. This cheese ages in our caves, developing a unique flavor profile and rind. Serve it on a cheese board, melted in a grilled cheese sandwich or mixed into your favorite mac n’ cheese recipe.
At Churchtown Dairy we value the healing properties plants share with us both when we take them in our bodies and when we take them in with our senses. To this end, two acres of the Churchtown Dairy are dedicated to the growing of medicinal plants--plants that can heal when turned into Anthroposophical or homeopathic remedies, and plants that heal when we simply stand or sit in their presence.
In 2017 a healing garden was established that lures visitors into the beauty of the plant, with approximately 200 species planted in such a way that the plants’ particular magic--expressed in color, form, scent and texture--can be experienced by all who enter. These plants also provide a refuge for bird and insect life. Many of the plants grown are used medicinally and are harvested and sold either to practitioners who make remedies or to visitors who can find simple Churchtown Dairy products made on-site.
Adjacent to the healing garden, medicinal plants are also grown as field crops. Beyond creating a beautiful landscape, our aim is to grow plants of the highest quality. To this end, Biodynamic methods are used to benefit the soil and therefore the plants. Soil fertility is also developed through utilizing on-farm resources including composting the manure from the cows raised and fed on our pastures. Biodynamic preparations are also used to enhance the flowering phase of plant development, leading to higher medicinal quality.
In the season, garden walks are offered each Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. At other times visitors are always welcome to enjoy the gardens at their leisure.
Throughout the year, Churchtown Dairy sponsors a number of social and educational events for our local community. Some are specifically geared toward farmers, cheesemakers, or gardeners, and others are for meeting the neighbors and enjoying each others company. Please check back regularly for a list of upcoming events, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our mailing list.