More than 20 tons of cheese is produced each year from the milk of pasture-raised cows and goats at Sprout Creek Farm, in LaGrange, New York. That alone is a major accomplishment, with several of the Hudson Valley cheeses being multiple award winners from groups such as the American Cheese Society (ACS). But cheesemaking is just one part of what Sprout Creek has to offer. The staff also produces meat from the farm’s free-range chickens and other fowl and pigs. Milk, eggs, and vegetables from the farm are sold at the farm’s store. And, most important, Sprout Creek is a nonprofit educational center and summer camp, where more than 2,500 schoolchildren come each year to learn about nature and agriculture.
One of Sprout Creek’s cheeses, a savory, dense raw cow’s-milk variety, is named Kinkead, after Elise Kinkead, who donated her farm to the Society of the Sacred Heart, to be operated as Sprout Creek Farm. The original farm was in Connecticut, adjacent to a girls’ school, and its lessons were incorporated into the students’ days. Relocated to LaGrange, thanks to Kinkead’s generosity, Sprout Creek became a true working farm, with its educational component in full force.
Head cheesemaker Colin McGrath is the man behind the team that artisanally produces ACS-award-winning cheeses like Eden (a semi-soft pungent raw cow’s-milk cheese); Madeleine (a pecorino-like goat’s-milk cheese); and Toussaint (a complex Alpine-flavored cow’s-milk cheese). “Our cheeses are made from the nutritious and creamy (antibiotic- and hormone-free) milk of our small herds of cows and goats that roam the pastures eating what they’re supposed to eat—grass,” say the folks at Sprout Creek. “What we are doing when making cheese,” McGrath told Edible Hudson Valley, “is we are taking milk and emphasizing all of the natural characteristics in it by 100 percent. Whether it is good or bad, it is going to show through.” And from the taste of things at Sprout Creek, it’s all good.