Do-Good Dairy

Cheese that gives back

When it comes to cheese, we've rarely met a wheel we weren't drawn to. But there are a few for which our affections go beyond the basic attraction–these cheeses get deep.

Or, at least their makers do. For Bob Wills of Cedar Grove Cheese in Wisconsin and John and Janine Putnam of Thistle Hill Farm in Vermont, cheese is an instrument to help give back to the community as much as it is a complement to your burger.

In Milwaukee, Wills is working on a creamery incubator called Clock Shadow Creamery on the first floor of a new community center, which is scheduled to open next spring. With the new space, he hopes to introduce a younger generation to cheesemaking, particularly targeting those with limited access to quality curds.

Meanwhile, the Putnams have taken the cheesemaking process for their Tarentaise cheese and transformed it into an interactive lesson. In collaboration with Farms for City Kids Foundation and Spring Brook Farm, the Putnams invite children from urban centers to the farm, where they help with the wheels' creations.

But beyond their good karma, the cheeses from both outfits are delicious: Cedar Grove captured our hearts this spring with the first domestic iteration of buffalo-milk mozzarella; more recently, we've been snacking on the goat's-milk cheddar. And the Putnams' Tarentaise is as delicious an Alpine-style cheese as exists on these shores–a happy marriage of salinity and nutty caramel flavor.