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Meet the Farmers: Artisan Cheese in Vermont

There’s a lot of young, entrepreneurial farmers popping up in the Green Mountain State. But what more can one expect from a great state that has outlawed billboards along highways, and whose capitol city has no McDonalds?

TV personality and Chef Emeril Lagasse has a show for PlanetGreen TV that highlights local ingredients, organic food and healthful eating. This week, he went to Vermont in search of cheese farmers. He visited with the Kehler brothers, proprietors of Jasper Hill Farm, who began making cheese several years ago when they bought a run-down dairy near Caspian Lake, where their family spent summer vacations. (The Kehler brothers, incidentally, are also profiled at length in The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese by Jeffrey P. Roberts, where you can find many other cheese makers and farmers.)

From the Burlington Free Press:

GREENSBORO — At his cheese shop in Manhattan, chef Emeril Lagasse likes to buy a certain blue cheese made in Vermont. He and his kids look for the Vermont blue on weekend shopping trips, Lagasse said.

So it was a pretty great thing for Lagasse, whose culinary exploits include TV cooking shows, to find himself on location last week at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro. Lagasse was making Bayley Hazen blue with artisan cheesemakers Mateo and Andy Kehler when he had a kind of Epicurean epiphany.

PHOTOS

Emeril Lagasse cooks in Hardwick

Emeril’s feast in the Vermont countryside

“Holy mackerel,” Lagasse thought. “I’m making the cheese I buy in New York. I totally get the connection. It’s come full circle.”

Full circle also describes the agriculture and food community, its relationships and intentions, that brought Lagasse to the Northeast Kingdom to shoot episodes for “Emeril Green,” his Planet Green broadcast. The show, usually shot in a Whole Foods store in Fairfax, Va., highlights local ingredients, organic food and healthful eating.

Lagasse, 49, traveled to the Northeast Kingdom to the tell the stories of farmers, chefs, food producers and entrepreneurs whose work is in the forefront of Vermont’s local, sustainable food system. The week long visit centered around the food and farm community that is taking root and growing in and around Hardwick.

A group of 30-something farmers, producers and entrepreneurs are growing and producing food, creating value-added products, building a diverse agricultural network, and working to strengthen the viability of the area through an ag-centered local economy.

They engage in a variety of collaborative efforts: from lending each other money to sharing a pickup-full of pork; from exchanging ideas about marketing to trading meals for glassware at Claire’s, a Hardwick restaurant.

“I’m impressed a lot, but I’m really impressed here,” Lagasse said. “It’s just really impressive what this area is doing, what these guys are contributing. It’s a region of the country that is incredibly agriculturally friendly.” […]

Read the entire article here.


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