Some days it appears that the Family Farm may be a thing of the past. For one small dairy in Dublin Texas the answer to the dilemma faced by many small farms sounded like something out of a corporate board room, “Downsize and Diversify!”
One of the most interesting and inspiring stories we have found on our road trip across America is the story of the Veldhuizen Dairy. While at the Velduizen Cheese Shop the owner Stuart came out and took the time to tell us the story behind this amazing business. The farm where the cheese shop sits is a small dairy farm. Stuart related how at one time the dairy had 250 dairy cows that were being milked but because of the financial realities of modern farming the dairy was in dire financial difficulties. It was around 2001 when Stuart and his wife Connie made a courageous and drastic decision. The decision was to Diversify into the cheese processing business and Downsize from 250 dairy cattle to 55 dairy cattle. The milk produced by the smaller herd of 55 cows was then channeled entirely into cheese production.
The genius of this plan took the struggling diary and put it back into a profitable business but not without a lot of work and ingenuity. Part of the necessary ingenuity was the development of a menu of hand crafted cheese’s the were so unique and high in quality that they could command high prices even in the highly competitive boutique cheese industry. Over the years since the development of Velduizen Cheese Shop the owners have developed 15 unique cheeses with names like, Bosque Blue, Paragon, Redneck Cheddar, and Dublin Karst.
Our stop was not just a casual one we were taken to the Velduizen farm by JR a friend of ours who had grown up on a Dairy Farm that his father had later sold. JR was so impressed by the transformation of the Velduizen Dairy operation that he wanted us to see it. The centerpiece of the dairy is now the Cheese Shop which is located right inside the Dairy’s main gate. When we entered the cheese shop we were greeted by Connie who was running the Cheese shop. The shop is simple it consists of a large display counter that showcases the 15 cheeses offered by the Dairy. The shop also had fresh milk, eggs, fresh yogurt and some boutique cheese related nic-nacks
The back wall of the shop offers a large viewing window that looks into the actual cheese making factory where you can watch workers making the cheese. For about an hour we visited with Stuart and Connie while we sampled cheese and purchased about five pounds of our favorites. One of the unique aspects of the Velduizen cheeses is that many of them are offered with varying degrees of ageing like the Paragon Reserve which Charlene and I loved. The Shop offers a cheese lover a full diversity of cheeses ranging from standard cheddar and gouda to blue cheese that will warm the heart of any blue cheese lover. Charlene and I walked out the door with about five-pound of very unique and fun cheese and a gallon of raw milk that we have been sharing with friends as we have journeyed down our road.
Velduizen cheese is so sought after that the entire inventory is sold by the wheel to restaurants in Texas so if you want to try one of these great cheeses you have two choices find one of the restaurants serving their cheese of go to the source and visit the Velduizen Cheese Shop in Dublin, Texas.
We didn’t just leave Stuart and Connie with a sack of cheese and milk. We took away proof that the American small business and the small American farm can prosper. This wonderful little business employs about 13 people plus Stuart’s parents and one of Stuart and Connie’s kids. That is a lot of good jobs but this businesses success was best measured by the 5 grandkids that are being blessed with the joy of being raised in the amazing environment of the small American farm.
If you want to know more about Velduizen Cheese you can find their website at cheese@Velduizencheese.com and if you’re ever in Dublin Texas take the time to stop, taste and enjoy this great American success story.