by Laura Steiger, Outreach Team
(originally published February 2017)
Photos courtesy of Ferndale Farmstead Artisan Cheese
From soil to seed to grass to fields to cows to milk to cheese to you! Learn about this family operated seed-to-cheese farm.
During the annual Whatcom Farm Tour in September, I had the pleasure of visiting Ferndale Farmstead Artisan Cheese and taking home three cheese selections: scamorza, fior di latte, and caciotta. During the subsequent days, my household happily noshed on lasagna, panini, and ate lots (and lots) of fresh mozzarella. It made for some spectacular and memorable home-cooked meals.
Deliciously fond memories, but I digress.
The Ferndale Farmstead Artisan Cheese story really begins in the seeds and soil of this family operated seed-to-cheese farm.
Their story reminds me a bit of the children’s song about the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly: they build the SOIL to plant the SEED to grow the GRASS to farm the FIELDS to feed the COWS to get the MILK to make the CHEESE for you to EAT. Luckily, the Ferndale Farmstead Cheese Artisans story has a much happier ending than that poor old lady—an ending where we all get to eat authentic Italian-style cheese!
Three generations of the Wavrin family are involved in the business: farming, milking, providing veterinary care, cheesemaking, and bookkeeping. Daniel Wavrin, the third generation, is passionate about the cheesemaking side of the operation. If you ever have the opportunity to take a tour with Daniel do not hesitate. He is a fount of knowledge, and the farm and creamery are something wondrous to behold.
The dairy in Ferndale, which supplies 100 percent of the milk for the creamery, was purchased by the Wavrin family in 2009 from the Larsen family, who had farmed it for three generations.
The family is committed to maximum resource conservation on the 500-acre dairy farm.
They practice no-till agriculture; capture manure to build soil health in the grass fields; and use sand beds in the barn, which are healthier for the herd than sawdust, particularly in our wet climate, and can be reused (unlike sawdust that needs to be replaced after every use).
Raffaele Mascolo, a renowned cheese guru from Italy, lived with Daniel for a year
After months of preliminary research, construction began on the creamery in 2013. Raffaele Mascolo, a renowned cheese guru from Italy, lived with Daniel for a year to consult on nearly every aspect of the creamery from design to recipes. The cheesemaking equipment was imported by boat from Italy, and a small culture house in Italy continues to do all the culture mixing for the creamery. The initial cheese production took place in June 2015 and local sales started later that year.
Every piece of cheese is carefully crafted by hand using Raffaele’s authentic recipes, and a blend of old-world technique and a gleaming array of state-of-the-art equipment. This meticulous preparation and attention to detail is what takes Ferndale Farmstead Artisan Cheese well beyond the ordinary.
It’s no surprise that their authentic Italian-style cheese is already winning awards.
MEET THE HANDCRAFTED
FIOR DI LATTE
Fresh, whole milk mozzarella with a delicate flavor and smooth texture. Great for snacking or use in caprese and other salads, grilled cheese, or other baked dishes.
Tempting bite-sized version of the fior di latte fresh mozzarella packed in brine to retain the cheesemaker’s intended flavor profile.
Mild flavor and soft texture. Pairs well with fruit or a thick slice of crusty bread. Won first place in the People’s Choice Award at the Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival!
A relative of fior di latte mozzarella, but with a bolder and more buttery flavor. Great in recipes like lasagna where a gooey melted cheese is desired.
Rich, creamy aged cheese with a smooth, almost silky, texture. The natural rind lends a sweet flavor. Great on a cheese plate or in your picnic basket.
A young cheese with a sharp, grassy flavor. A great substitute for cheddar. Try it on pizza or in baked dishes.