Getting to Know Becky Loftus/Blythedale Farm
We were pleased to speak with Becky Loftus of Blythedale Farm in Corinth, VT. Blythedale Farm is a small, family-owned and operated dairy farm. Since 2004, they have produced an award-winning line of soft and hard artisan cheese by hand, in small batches, from the sweet milk of their Jersey cows. Blythedale Farm cheeses can be found at quality specialty shops, grocers and cooperatives up and down the east coast from Maine to Georgia. Visit them online blythedalecheese.com and on Facebook. You can also contact them by phone at (802) 439-6575 or by email at email@example.com.
How did you get started in the cheese business?
My husband Tom and I started making cheese in New York as a hobby. One day we saw a small advertisement in Hoard’s Dairyman magazine advertising the sale of Blythedale Farm. We were looking for a change although we didn’t really know what that change would be. We came to visit the farm on Columbus Day weekend of 2003. It was a beautiful weekend and the countryside was neon with color. Soon after that, we quit our jobs, packed up our house and moved to Vermont. The previous owners made cheese on a small scale and we picked up where they left off and then grew the business. We originally thought if we did this for three to five years, we’d be happy. It’s now thirteen years later and we are still at it and still having fun.
Did you and your husband grown up on dairy farms?
No. We are not farmers by heritage. We grew up in the small village of Scottsville, New York, outside of Rochester. We decided later in life that we wanted this sort of lifestyle. Tom was an English teacher and I was an administrative assistant at the district office of our high school in the Special Education department. One of the big reasons we got into education was because we wanted the summers off. We lived in the city of Rochester, New York and decided we wanted to get back to the country and moved back to Scottsville. We wanted to have a big garden, animals and that country style of life. We did hobby farming on the side and got some goats. The goats multiplied and we ended up with A LOT of goat milk. We started making chèvre (goat cheese) and found that we were very successful, time after time and enjoyed doing it.
What makes your cheese special and is the industry very competitive?
We grow all of our own hay and our cows don’t eat corn. Our cheeses are considered a “Farmstead” product because we use all the milk from our own closed herd to produce our own cheeses. We have total quality control over what we feed our herd, how we milk them and we believe that adds to the goodness of our product. Our herd is also all Jersey cows and the milk from the Jersey breed is very high in fat, which we feel adds to the luxuriousness of our cheese. Our soft cheeses like the Camembert and the Brie are our best sellers. However, we also produce three hard raw milk cheeses as well. When we started there were 25 cheese makers in the Vermont Cheese Council and now there are 50. We have an advantage in the market since we primarily focus on soft cheeses. Making soft cheese is much harder because it only lasts 8 weeks. We have been continually complimented on the consistency of our product which we are always pleased to hear.
How many people does the farm employ and how large is your herd?
Well, we have about 60 cows in our herd and we are milking about 42 cows a day on average. We are busier in the summer than in the winter but we do produce cheese year round. Depending on the time of year, we’ve usually got about 8-10 employees. All of our employees are local people. We pride ourselves on trying to hire local people.
Where can local people buy or find your cheese?
We don’t sell our cheese directly at the farm but with our local distributors, we are pretty much available throughout Vermont. In addition to local grocery stores and specialty stores, you can find us in almost 100% of the food coops in Vermont. You can also find our cheese on the menus of the finest restaurants.