Everyone’s favourite artisan cheesemaker Deb Allard has been making her cheeses, kefir, yoghurt, butter and milk for 18 years, working on the farm that has been in the family since 1885. The farm was returned to a dairy five years ago after she realised that they needed their own independent milk supply to grow her Cheeses Loves You business, as milk is of course the main ingredient but also the main expense.
Originally their main problem was sourcing cows. ‘We wanted Jersey cows, for their natural, beautiful flora, high fat and protein, but we were sold the worst cows, so it took us two years to get them into great health’.
‘There have been problems, but five years later we look at the lush grass, we have no bushfires, floods or drought and I can just duck next door for more milk, now we sit back and say everything is going well’.
There are 200 head of cattle of which 70–120 will be milking, so for Jim (Deb’s partner) the dairy side of things can be intense. Deb applauds, ‘He really is very handy and everything is in place, we lost power this morning and we just flicked on the generator’.
‘The cheese is such a beautiful and popular product because of the health of the cows, there are never any issues with the milk’, she says. It might also be Deb’s incredible skill with cheesemaking – she’s travelled the world honing her knowledge.
Deb’s cheese is small batch, with no preservatives and often no salt. It’s extremely fresh and contains no shelf extenders like supermarket cheese. Despite this, Deb ensures her products are affordable.
Deb sells these magnificent cheeses through local farmers’ markets and to some local restaurants. ‘It’s okay for people to need to come to the farmers markets to pick up my cheese, it supports local growers, we get to discuss the products and now my regulars know everything about cheese and milk, while new customers can try something they haven’t tried before,’ she says.
‘I love working in this region. When I am cooking at home, I can name every ingredient and where it came from, plus I get to mingle with like-minded people who are so enthusiastic about being a part of such a thriving foodie community’.
Deb’s awards are too long to list here but a visit to her stall will tell you enough.