Twenty one artisanal and farmstead cheesemakers who collectively make more than 100 types of cheese have banded together to form the nonprofit Massachusetts Cheese Guild, which will launch officially with a gala cheese tasting on October 29.
“The time has come for cheesemakers in Massachusetts, who have toiled independently for years, to coalesce for their greater good and to wave a proud flag for all the awards and accolades they’ve accrued for their products,” said Peter Lovis of The Cheese Shop of Concord, who is both a charter sponsor and on the guild’s board of advisors.
The goals of the Massachusetts Cheese Guild are to educate each other as well as consumers, retailers and distributors about the exceptional cheeses that are made in Massachusetts, to encourage and support the production of farmstead and artisanal cheeses made from Massachusetts milk and to help cheese artisans to promote their products and their achievements. The organization also intends to draw the attention of the public to the wealth of cheese varieties that are available throughout the state. Those represent almost every type of cheese, from alpine to blue, from Nubian goat to Ayrshire cow, from fresh and soft to the cave-aged and hard varieties.
Barbara Hanley is the guild’s inaugural president. There is also a 10-person board of directors. Sponsors underwriting the formation of the organization are The Cheese Shop of Concord, Shubie’s Market and Seacrest Foods International. The Massachusetts Cheese Guild is funded by its members and supported by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board. Its artisan members range in location from Topsfield to the north to Martha’s Vineyard on the south and from Somerville to the east and Williamstown to the west.
The organization’s website is live and offers information about the guild, its artisans, sourcing information for Massachusetts cheeses and directions for how to cook with Massachusetts cheeses. It also describes the factors that can affect cheesemaking and anoints the Jersey as the smartest cow on the planet.