State launches cheesemakers guild

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CheeseWheelA group of cheesemakers, retailers, scientists and supporters of Pennsylvania-made cheese have joined together to create a guild in support of the growing artisan industry in the state.

The proposed mission of the guild is to “promote the highest standards of cheesemaking and celebrate the diversity of the cheese community in Pennsylvania through partnerships, outreach and education,” according to the guild’s website.

“The formation of this guild excites me because I know that there are some great things that are being accomplished in our area and I also believe that if you are going to be able to get better in such a niche industry such as craft/artisanal cheese there needs to be a strong voice to be able to ask for help and to get help,” says Emilio Mignucci, Vice President of DiBruno Brothers. “I am encouraged because I see some glimpses of really great cheese making local to me in Philly and I want to represent and bring these local treasures to our customer base who are really interested in supporting local.”

The guild will hold its first annual business meeting on January 21 at Penn State’s Rodney A. Erickson Food Science Building in State College. The meeting will begin at 4 pm and features a seminar on “The Terroir of Cheese” by Dr. Lisbeth Goddik of Oregon State University. The event will also include a business meeting to discuss bylaws and other administrative matters of the guild, as well as a networking reception for this newly formed group. Cheesemakers and industry members across the state are encouraged to attend.

The guild’s efforts will be directed towards long-term goals, including the strengthening of the quality, safety and sustainability of the cheese industry in the state. The guild will also provide a forum for education and networking for licensed cheesemakers to improve their skills, and to connect young dairy farmers with apprenticeships in cheesemaking.

“Part of our focus is to reinforce a sense of community within the industry, and to foster its growth,” says Stefanie Angstadt, one of the members of the guild’s Steering Committee.

The guild’s mission also looks outwards, to consumers. It will promote Pennsylvania-made cheese within the state and across the Northeastern U.S. region through educational campaigns, events and community outreach.

“I am really excited about the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild because it brings the cheese community together – the cheese makers, the suppliers, the retailers, and the consumers,” says Kerry E. Kaylegian, Ph.D. who is a Dairy Foods Research & Extension Associate for Penn State. “It provides education and networking for the cheesemakers to improve their craft and to make their businesses more profitable, and it raises awareness of consumers on the wonderful cheese and dairy products made in Pennsylvania. Most of all, they’re a phenomenal bunch of people and it’s just really fun to work with them and watch their businesses grow.”

“Pennsylvania and the region has a growing and dynamic community of cheesemakers, cheese lovers and cheesemongers,” says Sue Miller, one of the members of the guild’s Steering Committee and the owner of Birchrun Hills Farm. “This group will benefit greatly from the networking, educational, and marketing opportunities in being involved with the newly formed guild.”

The Pennsylvania Cheese Guild promotes the highest standards of cheesemaking and celebrates the diversity of the cheese community in Pennsylvania through partnerships, outreach and education. Learn more at www.pacheeseguild.org.

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