Monday, April 5, 2010

Great things are on the horizon for Laurel Valley Creamery and I am lucky to know one of the great things personally.

Let me introduce my cousin Kristy, I have known her since she was born, but have never been as excited about knowing her as I am now. She is heading east from Portland Oregon soon, to Gallipolis. She is going to be running our mobile cheese cart and preparing farm fresh food, for you. I can't wait.

Kristy will be here soon and her list of things to do is getting longer everyday. Kristy will be taking on many roles here on the farm, blogging included. So look for her to chronicle her journey and provide a city girl perspective on life on the farm and in the cheese cart.

Without further adieu Kristy....

I last visited the farm just under a year ago. Celeste was still testing cheese in her kitchen and they were getting ready to pour cement in the cheese house. One afternoon, Celeste and I prepared to make some cheddar curds for dinner that night. She said, "do you want to do this part? You need to stir it for 30 minutes straight." 30 minutes? Dang. But I wanted to feel accomplished, I had never made cheese before. So I stirred and after 30 minutes was up I felt sweet wrist relief. The following conversation went something like this:

Me: Ok, the timer went off. What next?
Celeste: Alright, now keep an eye on the temperature and stir it for another 30 minutes.
Me (under my breathe): Jerk.

But it was so worth those 60 minutes of repetitive motion. Salty, refreshing little chunks of creamy goodness, dropped in some batter, and then fried.

During that weekend there was one moment that got me more excited than all the rest. That moment was when they showed me the food cart they purchased and told me about their plans to make and sell fried cheese curds from it. I remember thinking of the possibilities of how they could use the cart to market their farm and push their product. I pictured myself in it, making people happy with cheese, and started to think of how I could get her and Nick to employ me.

Finally, last month, Celeste called and asked me to move to her farm in Ohio and manage the food cart. I was so ecstatic and confused I couldn't even think or say anything. I had to hang up and collect my thoughts.

Why me? Well I can assume that it's because I share an enthusiasm for the locavore and organic movements. I love spending my Saturdays and lunch hours perusing farmers markets and figuring out which stand has the best cabbage or the best potatoes. I think learning the history of what I ingest is important and I try to keep a realistic view by understanding the life of the animals I eat before they hit my plate. And then using that knowledge to be a responsible consumer.

Additionally, I am an aspiring chef and a food cart enthusiast. I recently moved from Lansing, MI, to Portland, OR. Portland is the food cart mecca. I have been in sheer awe of the magic that happens in these little closets on wheels ever since I arrived. I am amazed by the quality and scale of what the carts can produce and provide at such a low cost. They are as affordable as fast food, but more delicious, healthy, creative, and environmentally sound.

Also, probably because I'm family. (Don't you wish your cousin made cheese like mine? Don't you?) This is one privilege I'm willing to exploit.

At heart, I'm a city girl. I've spent my entire life feeling like I need to move to a city bigger than the one I was living in at any given moment. I'll probably hear it for saying this but even during my 2.5 months in Portland, there were times that it didn't feel like Portland was big enough or diverse enough. If you had asked me one year ago if I'd be living on a farm, hauling trucks with trailers through Appalachia and pushing cheese for a living, I'd call you crazy. However, I am being completely honest when I say that I have never been so excited to do something in my entire life.

I am (oddly enough) looking forward to the long hours, physical labor, and learning to adapt outside of my element. Trying to imagine the diverse set of skills I will acquire during my time with Laurel Valley Creamery is overwhelming. I'm eager to get started and to share my passionate experiences and occasional struggles with you all! I can only hope that I provide my cousins and their farm with as much growth and sustainability as they are giving me.