Jean Koons will hand out samples of her semi-soft and hard cheeses made of organic milk from a neighbor’s grass-fed Jerseys on Open Creamery Day.
This is the fourth year that Koons and her husband, Peter, who own and operate The Kennebec Cheesery in Sidney, will participate in the annual agricultural day set aside to promote Maine cheeses. Artisan cheese makers will open their farms and kitchens to visitors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 10.
“We’ll give out samples and people will get to see the farm and animals. There’s sheep and goats — we have little ones running around — and a guard llama. Coyotes got a lot of our sheep a few years ago, so we got her and haven’t had any problems since.”
Koons said it is important that people know where their food comes from and how it is produced. Open Creamery Day is a great way to teach people, she said.
“I’m amazed how many people haven’t been on a farm and don’t understand that you have to breed animals for the milk to get the cheese,” she said. “I just hope it’s a nice day so people can have some fun touring the farm. They can have a picnic if they want.”
Eric Rector, Maine Cheese Guild president, said more than 1,000 people visited cheese-making operations in Maine last year on Open Creamery Day. He said there are 39 licensed cheese makers in Maine.
“That doesn’t compare to Vermont, which has 150 or more, or Wisconsin,” Rector said. “We still can’t compare with big states, but we have been winning a lot of national and international awards. It’s not only a growing agricultural area in Maine, but our cheese is of the same quality or even better than you could find anywhere else.”
Rector said the guild organizes workshops for cheese makers and highlights other workshops, such as the ones hosted by the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University of Vermont.
“They are constantly having classes and even have a degree program,” Rector said. “We actually bring some of their instructors here to Maine. When we have our meetings we’re always talking about the last workshop we went to or the new ones we’ve heard of. There’s a lot of education going on among guild members.”
Beth Whitman said she looks forward to sharing the art of cheese-making with visitors who show up on her doorstep.
Whitman said people have a lot of fun when they come to her farm on the Townhouse Road in Whitefield.
“These types of events are a good way to see what’s going on in Maine,” Whitman said. “You get to go places you wouldn’t otherwise go and meet new people and taste new things. It’s sort of an adventure and it’s an organized event.”
For more information about Open Creamery Day, contact Rector at email@example.com or 323-2664. The event is sponsored by the Five Island Farm in Georgetown.