Portable Cheese Making Training Module

2002 Annual Report for LNE02-155

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $79,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $31,860.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Rick Bishop
Sullivan County Division of Planning

Portable Cheese Making Training Module


The first task was to discuss with the farmers, cheesemakers and regulators, what type and volume of products were to be produced. Second, the markets for the cheese produced were profiled and matched to the management time available at each farm.The third task was to perform an economic analysis of the products and markets to determine what would be profitable on each farm.A case study flow chart was developed from the answers to these questions. Based on the case study decisions, the 12×36 foot open floor plan trailer was designed, including an 8 foot walk-in cooler at one end and a boiler room at the other. Between these walls is a 22 foot cheesemaking room with a pitched concrete floor with a drain and washable walls and ceiling.

Central to the success of this project was the ability to use a dual purpose vat to both pasteurize and make cheese in. The costs and the space requirements for two separate pieces of equipment was prohibitive. The biggest challenge was to find a unit that would be approved by Milk Control. Reconditioned vats were not available or inappropriate so a custom-built, dual-purpose, 200 gallon, 3A compliant vat is being manufactured for us.Development of the training module is being accomplished by the farmers and the project coordinator, Rick Bishop. The installation of the structural walls, the concrete floor, the cooler, the utilities, the boiler, the waste lines, and the air handler are nearly completed. Each stage is being inspected by Milk Control representative, Steve Crossen, and each piece of equipment approved in advance by Ag and Markets Equipment Specialist Bill Fredricks. Exact specifications and requirements are to be posted on the project web site.

The economics of producing fresh cheeses, aged cheeses, green cheese wheels for sale for off-farm aging, and even class 1 products such as butter, yogurt, quark and cream were considered for the first two dairy farms involved. Cheesemaking consultants, New York chefs, and retail cheese store owners were involved in directing these decisions. The first farm will be making 12-pound wheels of a Tomme type aged three to six months, and a mozzarella for the sale at the Greenmarket.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Internal performance targets included the securing of a county budget line for purchasing goods and services required by the grant, and to procure them. The Sullivan County legislature budgeted the funding and the Division of General Services agreed to conduct procurement. The Partnership for Economic Development provided economic analysis and creation of the business plans for the pilot farms. Legal counsel for procurement and creation of the lease agreement with the farmers was provided by Sullivan County Deputy Attorney Cheryl McCausland.The professional services of cheesemakers Peter Dixon, Kathy Biss and Jonathan White were secured through General Services for advice in the development of the cheese plant and then for the training of the farmers in the art of cheesemaking when the facility is ready.The information exchange on the project has been through Agricultural Economic Development Specialist Rick Bishop on a case-by-case basis. Inquires by farmers and peers regarding construction, consultants, regulations, and especially equipment have been responded to in Schuyler, Delaware, Yates, Stuben, and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania.We have contacted Craig Cramer, an extension associate from Cornell University, to ask him to create and maintain the web site similar to what he has done for another Northeast SARE prject on adding value to beach plums(www.beachplum.cornell.edu/). Further collaboration is underway by the assistance we have provided with the newly-formed New York Artisinal Cheesemakers Association.


  • Pilot farmers’ needs and goals profiled for a “case study” and project design. Design and equipment recommendations developed with cheesemakers.

    Sullivan County Legislature established a $79,000 operating account for the project.

    Ag and Markets and Milk Control reviewed and approved draft designs.

    Federal Milk Marketing order issues resolved.

    Market demands and opportunities evaluated with New York City retailers and chefs.

    Preliminary economic analysis of product categories completed.

    Sullivan County nearing completion for all bids and procurement.

    Prototype for a farmstead cheese vat developed with equipment company.

    Professional services procured for development and cheesemaking training.

    Final design and equipment approval obtained through Ag & Markets.

    Networking within the State Artisinal and Farmstead Cheesemakers Association.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Numerous other agricultural professionals and dairy farmers have shown interest in the concept of an on-farm cheesemaking trailer for production or demonstration purposes. A prototype of a dual-purpose cheesemaking vat that is approved for usage by New York State Milk Control is an important innovation for farmstead cheesemaking.