Boggy Meadow Farm – New Hampshire – 50 States of Cheese Artisan Cheese Maker’s Spotlight
The English settlers that arrived during the birth of the nation found a farming paradise in New England. The town of Walpole in southern New Hampshire was prime agricultural land and one family, the Masons, did just that in the mid-seventeenth century. Dairy farming continued at Boggy Meadow Farm right up until 1994 when low milk prices saw the business delve into cheese making. The beautiful four hundred acre property has remained in the family throughout the centuries and is currently managed by family member Stephanie Cabot (not part of the Cabot cheese dynasty!) and her English husband Marcus Lovell-Smith. Stephanie brought her family to Boggy Meadow to live in 2004 and with her husband stepped up the cheese making operation.
Head cheese maker Stan Richmond picks up the story. “There had always been a dairy operation here but the cheese making business got going with Stephanie’s father Powell. He brought the idea of Swiss style cheeses and I also got my training from a man from Switzerland, back when I was a part-timer. The Alpine farmstead cheeses we make have been very popular.” A native New Hampshirite, Stan has spent a decade perfecting the recipes left by Powell, as well as introducing his own.
This cheese business is closely managed, with consistency the key. Stan said: “We have a big herd, around eight hundred right now with three hundred milkers, but we don’t put them on pasture. We grow our own alfalfa and corn and produce our own feed and use a freestall barn system. This gives us the consistency of milk we need for our operation.” With a predominantly Holstein herd (with some Brown Swiss and Jersey), Stan has enough milk to produce around eighteen tons of cheese a year.
Stan is currently working with a couple of part-timers who, like him, are learning the hand-made artisan cheese making process as apprentices so the traditional cheese making process can be continued when Stan one day hangs up his Wellingtons. “I always liked being on the farm so jumped at the opportunity to become a cheese maker here. Now I am passing on those skills.” Stan explains the high levels of experience and attention to detail that goes into each batch of Boggy Meadow Farm cheese. “The big thing for us is consistency- and that starts with our milk. We have an analyst adjust the mix of feed for the diet regularly, so the milk has the high levels of fats we prefer. We only make cheese every few days but the rest of the time is about watching temperatures, consistently managing our cheeses. There’s a huge amount to monitor when we aren’t actually making.”
Stan and his fellow cheese makers only work with raw milk. The Baby Swiss, a buttery, nutty cheese, is a big hit with New Englanders and is a reminder of the connection to the business’s Swiss roots. The smoked version of the Baby Swiss does have strong hint of New England, however. The cheese is smoked using maple wood to give it an almost meaty smoky aroma. No salt is added to the Baby Swiss cheeses and as they also use a washed-curd technique, the acidity is lower and the final product turns out much richer. Experts clearly love it to- the smoked version is a blue ribbon winner at the American Cheese Society.
The cave-aged Tomme, known as Fiddlehead Tomme, is named after a local fern that is served up as a cooked leaf vegetable. It is likened to a Tomme de Savoie although Stan ages it longer, for at least six months, to form a beautiful natural rind. Stan’s picture actually adorns one of his own creations known simply as ‘Stan’s Cheese’. Using his own recipe, Stan produced a delicious garlic and chive cheese that, along with the Jack they produce, is popular in the region as a cheese for any occasion.
Their cheeses are found throughout New England in Hannofords, Whole Foods and through local distributors. The cheese has grown in demand and Stan is constantly getting customers wanting their cheeses from further afield. “We are always being asked to sell cheese in new places and we ship around the states. In fact, on Monday I’m shipping off cheese to Texas.”
Boggy Meadow Farm has a proud heritage whose owners remain passionate to continue the dairy legacy. Nestled next to the Connecticut River, this stunning part of New England has another reason for swinging by the town of Walpole. Their small farm store is open to the public and sells other local produce alongside their farmstead cheeses. Visit www.boggymeadowfarm.com for more information.Ask A Question Submit a Recipe Visit the Cheese Making Shop