Maria Schumann and Josh Karp own a farm and orchard in Greensboro, Vermont (although their post office box is in Craftsbury Common). Josh was brought up on this farm and for the last 8 years, Josh and Maria have been raising their two sons (now 8 and 22) and farming the land. The views from their property are breathtakingly beautiful and I’m pretty sure most of us wish we lived there!
We first got to know Maria and Josh in February, 2012 when we posted an article about their unique Singing and Cheese Making Internship which they hosted that summer (click here). Shortly after, Maria sent us her recipe for Sulguni, a cheese she had come to love when she visited the Republic of Georgia.
Now, it is four years later and a lot has happened at Cate Hill Orchard:
Josh and Maria still love to sing and in fact did a concert last December with their singing group, FarmSong in the cheese cave of their neighbors, Bonnieview Farm and Sheep Dairy (before there was any cheese in it!). There are several videos at the FarmSong facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/farmsongsong/.
During the months of April and May, they participated in a community sing on Sunday afternoons at the East Craftsbury Church. It’s truly amazing that they have time at all to sing, considering the amount of work they have to do to produce the variety of products they make.*
This summer, Maria and Josh are milking 34 sheep which is yielding the family 4 gallons of milk/day. Their sheep are a mix of East Friesian, Awassi, Forest Clun, and Icelandic. They manage their flock organically, (the sheep get only a small amount of organic grain) and one of these days they’re planning to do the paperwork to get certified. (We’ll let you know.)
Starting around the end of June, Maria milks the flock by hand. She finds it more enjoyable and much faster than the machine milker when she factors in the time it takes to wash it. She does use the machine earlier in the season when the sheep are giving more milk.
Maria has been making cheese for years: a manchego (Vermanchego), a grana (Pecorino de Greensboro) and a tomme (name to come). She recently upgraded to a 15 gallon pot.
As you may know, it is very difficult to make cheese in your kitchen when you also bake bread, etc. So …
Josh and Maria are in the midst of a very exciting undertaking – to be up and running as a licensed dairy by August, selling cheese and raw sheep’s milk. They received a grant to build a new facility from Vermont Working Landscapes and Josh is now building it. According to their grant application:
“The facility’s main room will be used for cheese making from March to September, and then for apple processing into mid-winter. An adjacent room will be used for extracting honey in summer, and producing vinegar throughout fall and winter. Two coolers (for apples, cider, and aging cheese), and an apple sorting area will also be constructed.”
When they open, they will immediately begin selling raw sheep’s milk and then Maria will begin making cheese. These cheeses will have to be aged 60 days (by law) so the earliest she can sell them will probably be October. Hopefully, we will all be able to order her cheese online by November.
Meanwhile, they will continue selling all their products at the Hardwick and the Montpelier Farmer’s Markets. It’s all seasonal, of course. so right at the moment, they are selling lamb, wool, salves, and juices. In about 2 weeks, they will have cherries, honey and vinegar. Plums and apples start in mid August.
697 Shadow Lake Road
Craftsbury Common, Vermont
*Products They Make and Sell
Organic Apples– Hard to find heirloom varieties, as well as more modern types like Honeycrisp
Honey– Raw and unfiltered, no chemicals or antibiotics used on their hives
Bear Fat and Sheep Fat Salves
Apple Cider Vinegar– Organic, aged for 6 months in an oak barrel
Wool, Yarn and Pelts
Lamb– At the moment, they have 60 lambs who nurse from their mothers for two months. At that time they are weaned and the ewes milked. The sheep are given a little organic grain for training purposes, and other than that, only grass, seaweed, and organic apple drops from their orchard in the fall. They sell their lamb at the Montpelier Farmer’s Market, the Hardwick Farmer’s Market and at their farm store. In the fall they offer whole and half lambs.