On Raw Cheese appreciation day we visited the Cherry Grove farm, to… eat cheese.
We are still very surprised by the short distances one has to travel out of Princeton to find oneself in a completely different environment: agricultural, rural and utterly beautiful. We are not used to having such an easy access to green and wide open landscapes!
The Cherry Grove farm produces their own milk and cheese. They also have sheep and lambs, many cats , chickens, gentle bees, and a small group of guinea fowl that roamed the pastures undisturbed. We saw a cat get a shameful beating from a guinea fowl when it tried to come too close to the group, oops.
This was a special weekend for me because my mother, father and brother were visiting. A beautiful surprise visit! Together we sat under a tree, looking into the distant pastures, thinking how wonderful life on a farm would be…. then deciding that we would probably change our minds after any kind of real farm work. We all enjoyed the small tour of the farm, where we were able to watch the cows being milked, and we were able to ask all our pressing questions.
We learned that the grass on the farm is certified organic, but not the milk (or cheese). The farm stresses their commitment to healthy soil, which they believe is the basis for responsible agriculture. The cows are mostly grass-fed, and they roam the many acres, being rotated from pasture to pasture to ensure the soil and grass stay healthy.
Not that I know that much about ethical dairy-farming, but the animals seem by comparison to other dairy farms to be well treated. I found interesting for example that although, as is common, the calves are separated from their mothers early on, they are not bottle fed but instead a designated cow nurse feeds and takes care of them in small groups. The cow nurse we were told is selected because she showed signs of being a good caretaker. The second thing that I found interesting is that when the animals are walked from the pasture to the milking house, they are offered nutrients from open boxes of different minerals and vitamins. The cows are free to eat any or none of the nutrients on display, and as much or as little as they choose. The farm relies on the cows knowing what and how much of this nutritional supplements they need.
The farm also has different cheese making classes throughout the year. The farm store was very tempting with a selection of cheeses, honey, spreads, milk, yogurt, eggs…
We settled on a grass-fed raw cow milk Buttercup Brie and Havilah, that we devoured that evening with rosé, then prosecco, crusty bread, fig spread, honey and delicious Pennsylvania blue cheese that my brother had brought as a gift. (<3). It was, needless to say, delicious.
Overall the farm was fairly kid-friendly, although there are electric fences everywhere and you do have to be careful with active small children. As of our little M, she loved seeing the animals in front of the farm store (sheep, lamb, bunnies, cats, chickens). She paid attention to the tour, joining the group of other kids there. She was fascinated by the cows being milked and ate as many samples of the cheese and delicious bread pudding by le Bon Magot as she could ( => we had to stop her, it was too much).
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