Before we get into the list of their projects, let me just explain what a “Kookoolan” is- it was a nickname Koorosh’s father gave him when he was a boy in Iran. It doesn’t mean anything- it’s just a funny sound like “cutesy wootsy.” (Koorosh is ethnically Persian, born and raised in Iran, and a native speaker of Farsi.)
Now that we’ve answered that question, here’s a short list of projects Chrissie and Koorosh have going on at their 5 acre farm in Yamhill, Oregon:
They teach classes on cheesemaking and other farm skills on Saturdays almost all year round ($50/participant). At left, you see Rudy Marchesi who frequently teaches classes, and below, you see Mary Rosenblum, another frequent instructor.
In the next few months, there will be classes in Washed Curd Cheeses, Artisinal Mozzarella, Italian Hard Cheeses, Basic Soft Cheeses, Washed Rind Cheeses, and an All-Day Cheese Theory Class, among others.
Note: A few months ago, Food and Wine Magazine featured these classes in their list of Top 100 New Food and Culture Experiences, a great honor, indeed! (Page 80 in the May, 2010 issue)
They are a CSA vegetable farm. Below is a picture of one CSA harvest box (full size share). They shoot for 20 pounds of fresh vegetables in each week’s full-size box.
They conduct experiments with raising earthworms, and obtained a grant to investigate ways of integrating vermiculture (worm composting) with diverse farming.
They are growing fruit trees- pomegranates, mulberry, sour cherry and apple.
Did I also mention that they have a pond where they are raising tilapia and crawfish? Believe me, all this is just the short list. There are MANY other projects going on there, and, they just bought the farm in October, 2005!
In fact, until four years ago, both Chrissie and Koorosh worked full-time at Intel. Koorosh still works there full-time, as an equipment development engineer. Chrissie left in November, 2006.
As busy as she is, Chrissie took the time to tell me how she and Koorosh got started making cheese:
Well, it seemed like we had just figured out how to milk by hand when about ten days later we had some 35 gallons of gorgeous, 100% grassfed, Jersey milk in the refrigerator, with creamlines about 1/3rd of the way down the jar.
I had been a homebrewer and home winemaker for about ten years, so I thought “no problem, I’ll make cheese.”
So I called my favorite homebrew store, where I had seen several cheesemaking books for sale, and was surprised to find out that they sold no cheesemaking supplies. Portland, Oregon, is a mecca of homebrew stores: I called more than twenty, and none carried even a single ingredient or supply, just books. I couldn’t even find rennet! But they all referred me to The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, which was how I first learned about you.
We’ve had people travel to take our cheesemaking classes from Singapore, Norway, Arizona, North Carolina, and Vancouver Canada! It’s really a wonderful thing to include in plans for a trip to Oregon’s wine country. Our farm is located right in the middle of the Yamhill-Carlton American Viticulture Area!
(Note: I had to look that one up and apparently, viticulture is the science, production and study of grapes.)
ON PLAYING THE HAND YOU’RE DEALT
For the past four months, as some of you know, we have been foster parenting three young children from an unrelated family. The children are in foster care because both natural parents are drug addicts. The youngest child was born addicted to methamphetamine and with multiple birth defects, and at age four and a half, she is the developmental equivalent of a three-year-old. She has spent three and a half of her four and a half years in foster care. From her first day on the planet, she has been dealt a pretty brutal hand. Parenting these children has caused me to reflect on chance and opportunity in general.
Many of us, maybe most of us, have been dealt difficult hands. Some of us have genes that make us likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or cancer; some of us were born with autism or food sensitivities or any number of issues.
For animals it is the same: some animals have been selectively bred for modern production characteristics, such as rapid weight gain, large muscular frames, high egg production, and docile natures.
Every day on our farm, we see proof that no matter what hand you’ve been dealt, it’s up to you to play the cards . . .
Kookoolan Farms is located on Highway 47 between Yamhill and Carlton.
15713 Highway 47
Yamhill, OR 97148