Empowering dairy farmers to build a cottage industry

2008 Annual Report for LNE07-258

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $116,901.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Allison Shauger
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agricultu
Rebecca Robertson
Pennsylvania Assn for Sustainable Agriculture

Empowering dairy farmers to build a cottage industry


PASA will coordinate a series of educational workshops and trainings over the course of three years, designed to empower farmers and entrepreneurs to develop and market value-added dairy products, including artisan and farmstead cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, butter, cottage cheese, and more. PASA seeks to provide PA and regional dairy farmers the opportunity to diversify farm income through participation in field days, intensive learning programs, and conference tracks/workshops on producing and direct-marketing value-added dairy products.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Enabled by PASA’s value-added dairy programs, we expect 45 farmers and/or entrepreneurs to devote serious time, money and energy to experimenting with developing a value-added dairy product for market. Of these, 15 will go on to successfully introduce this product for direct market or wholesale distribution.


Information about PASA’s field days, intensive learning programs and conference reached well over the desired 4000 people. 15,000 conference brochures and 6,000 field day calendars were distributed, weekly emails were sent to over 5,000 addresses, and individual events were advertised through press releases in regional and agricultural newspapers as well as email and hardcopy flyers.

PASA’s goal for the 2008 field day season was to hold four field days attracting 175 farmers. We actually held five field days with a total of 174 attendees.

Ice Cream, Robotic Milking, and On-Farm Bottling, July 28

Certified Organic, Grass-Based Dairy Farm, August 20

Incorporating Value-Added Goat Dairy into a Diversified Farm Business, August 26

Lactofermentation, Canning, & Kitchen Sanitation Basics, September 8

Miniature Nubians & Goats’ Milk Skin Care Products, September 12

PASA hosted a successful Intensive Learning Programs that enabled 27 beginners to spend the day learning how to make cheese.

Home Cheesemaking: Hands-On Workshop for Beginners, October 18

The Art of Cheese, a full day pre-conference track at the 2008 Farming for the Future conference attracted 67 attendees. Melanie Dietrich Cochran, a reference on this grant and member of the conference planning committee, organized this all-day Thursday program at the conference titled, including the following presentations:

Costs and Considerations & Packaging and Aging Artisan Cheeses with Peter Dixon, Dairy Farm Consulting

Assessing and Balancing Production, Resources, and Marketing Goals with Krista Dittman & Charuth Van Beuzekom, Farmstead First

Obtaining a Provisional Raw Milk Cheese Permit with Holly Foster, Chapels Creamery

Artisan Cheese Plate with Ann Saxelby, Saxelby Cheesemongers

Cooking with Farmstead Cheeses with Jason Turner, Alibis Eatery and Spirits

Regulations for On-Farm Processing in PA with a Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture Representative

Over 200 people attended the following three value-added dairy related workshops held at the 2008 conference.

Raw Dairy Discussion with Mark McAfee (also the keynote speaker on Raw Dairy)

Cheesemaking Demonstration with Jim Amory, LeRaysville Cheese Factory, PA

Equipping the Value-Added Dairy Farm with Dale Martin, Agri-Service, MD

PASA will offer several value-added dairy workshops and two pre-conference tracks at the 2009 Farming for the Future conference. Melanie Dietrich Cochran, a reference on this grant and member of the conference planning committee, has organized two two-day conference programs: Beginning Cheesemaking an Advanced Cheesemaking. The following presentations will be included:

Costs & Considerations for a Start-up with Charuth Loth

Sharing a Cheesemaking Facility with Charuth Loth

Developing Basic Cheese Grading Skills with Cathy Pierce

Farm Snapshot with Emily Montgomery

The Influence of Raw Milk Quality and Sanitation on Cheese with Kerry Kaylegian

Cheese Culture Technology with Margaret Morris

Farmstead Cheese Risk Reduction & Safety, with Peter Dixon

Cheese Tasting & Evaluation with Emilio Mignucci, Di Bruno Brothers, & Amy Sisti-Baum

Cheese Caves, Cellars, and Aging Rooms with Peter Dixon

Working with Distributors and Pairing Cheese & Beer with Sandy Miller & Jamie Moore

Making Goats’ Milk Soap with Diane Wiest

Creating Artisanal Gelato Using Local Ingredients with Violeta Edelman & Robb Duncan

Adding Yogurt to a Cheese Plant with Clare Seibert & Mark Dietrich Cochran

Value-Added Panel

Retail Sales Panel

We expect this pre-conference track to sell out at 80 participants. Also scheduled for the 2009 conference are three value-added dairy related workshops. We anticipate approximately 100 people to benefit from these workshops.

Farmstead Milk Regulations: PDA and Farmer Perspectives with Paul Dix and Terry & David Rice

Grass Never Tasted Better: The Development of a Farm-Based Creamery with Clare & Mark Seibert

Steps for Starting a Goat Dairy with Cathy Soult

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We are happy to report that we attracted a diverse group of farmers to our programs this year especially in our intensive learning programs. We were able to draw from the greater PA region including many participants from Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. The majority were PASA members, but we had registrations from some non-PASA members as well. From our exit surveys, we learned that the large majority of participants learned what they expected to learn and that 65% plan to make a change in their farming operation, business, or community as a result of something they learned at the event. 69% of responding participants said they learned something at a value-added dairy event that would make their business more profitable.

The results from a Survey Monkey evaluation given to attendees of all field days and intensive learning programs show that in every category, when asked about knowledge/involvement before attending a PASA program compared to current level of knowledge/involvement, participants rated their current levels higher than before attending the event. This confirms that our programs are helping people change their products and marketing in a positive way. We’ve learned that over 90% of participants who responded intend to make changes to their business/farming practices and 28% noted that their business is more profitable as a result of attending a PASA value-added dairy event. 75% of respondents noted that their network/community has expanded as a result of attending a PASA field day. Thanks to the grant funding from SARE for programming on value-added dairy, we are adding options for farmers seeking to diversify income and create more products and better marketing practices.

Greg Boulos joined PASA as the Western Regional Director in 2008 and has taken over work on RFIN. He is assembling business plan materials that will be utilized and distributed at value-added dairy programming throughout 2009.


Brian Futhey

[email protected]
Stone Meadow Farm
190 Quarry Road
Woodward, PA 16882
Office Phone: 8143498841
Rachel Schaal

[email protected]
Farm Based Education Coordinator
Pennsylvania Assn for Sustainable Agriculture
104 North St
Millheim, PA 16854
Office Phone: 8023874041
David Eson

[email protected]
Director of Western PASA Programs
650 Smithfield Street, Suite 210
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Office Phone: 4126970411