Artisan Cheese: Intern to Maker Karim Farm and Creamery
- Date Posted May 17, 2019
- Location Ryegate, VT
- Category Agriculture / Culinary
- Job Type Internship/Apprentice
We began as a homestead with one cow, making cheese in our kitchen for our own consumption. When friends in the food industry wanted to purchase our cheese, we decided to become a licensed creamery. Building the needed facility required buying a small farm and expanding our herd. We moved to Ryegate, Vt. in July 2013 and have spent this time transitioning from homestead to farm and creamery, reestablishing dairying on the farm, establish our brand and developing products and markets.
We specialize in hard and semi-hard raw (cow) milk "farmstead-style" cheeses using European guidelines: customers report that our flavors are much closer to what they experience in Europe than in the US. At present, we have 18 cows, heifers and calves and produce 8 cheeses: Karim Nordic (a Jarlesberg-style Swiss), Piora (an Alpine “berg-kase”), Gruyere, Hispanico (a Manchgo style), Green Mountain Melody (a Morbier), an English Farmhouse Cheddar, Gouda, and our our own Italian-style “Vertalia.” All milk is produced on the farm and we use organic, vegetable rennet and sea salt. "Makes" are small, ~40 Lb., made by hand with careful attention to each cheese. Cheeses are aged on the farm in our own "cave" where we can monitor conditions and turn, spray and wash as needed.
We are growing, active with Farmers Markets, local stores and restaurants and partnerships with regional and national distributors. At the same time, we are getting older and hoping to share the business with an intern who is interested in growing into a artisan cheese maker.
Your internship will begin in late June and last, as such, for 60-90 days--until you can comfortably make all 8 cheeses: at this point you will be eligible for employment with us as a cheese maker Your internship will be a focused educational time--with work and reading and lots of conversation--but you are also helping us and will be compensated with a $120 a week stipend (with hourly pay offered for farm work beyond milking cows--this summer we have a grant to add to our cheese cave so there will be work to do), and room and board if you would like these. After you have completed your internship--and can make all 8 cheeses with minimal help--we hope you will stay on as a salaried cheese maker.
As an intern you will be involved in all aspects of our farmstead approach. Your days will vary. You will gain experience with cows, milking and pasturing, be involved in all "makes" and take on responsibilities in this process, and help with affinage, packaging and record keeping. You will learn food safety protocols as laid out in our food safety plan and standard operating procedures. At the same time we see cheese making as an art and you will work with us to think creatively "on-your feet," responding to the nuances of each cheese and the small variations presented by each vat of milk.
Farm work--and cheese making--take up lots of time. However, we will only require you to work 30 or so hours a week. This will leave you plenty of time for your own endeavors. We have had interns involve themselves in raising our chicks, spending time with our sheep, swimming in the pond, participating in gardening and wood splitting, and gaining expertise with tractor driving and carpentry. This is a rural area so we encourage,and make room for, all sorts of hobbies (our cows have come home serenaded by live bagpipe music). A day off a week provides opportunities to kayak on the Connecticut River, or in area lakes, hike in the Green or White Mountains or visit area towns and cities and participate in cultural events. We are pretty flexible and and put people first.
Our General Requirements for a cheese making intern include:
- Enthusiasm for cheese making. Prior culinary experience is preferred but we are happy to train some one with a commitment to learning the art of cheese making.
- Commitment to food safety and ability to carry out detailed cleaning and sanitizing protocols.
- Ability to work independently and collaboratively, willing to communicate in an on-going way.
- Ability to lift 50-60 lbs multiple times a day.
- Interest in dairying and farm-based production a plus.