By Ann E. Duckett of Little Bleu Catering & Events
For more than 20 years the Stewart family has been cultivating an agricultural cornucopia composed of interests and passions each member brings to the table. Kathy and Dave Stewart have worked 350 acres together with their four children—Anna, Daniel, Lizzy, and Ian—since 1991. This “diverse enterprise” is operated solely by the Stewarts, who remain steadfast to the guiding principle know your farmer, know your food.
The family moved from Saratoga County to Hornell, Steuben County, about four hours south west where greener pastures prevailed.
“We have family in the area and my parents purchased an existing farm at the head of the valley backing up to a nice hill perfect for cows,” Anna says. “We built a new dairy facility, and in 2016 we added our farm store and creamery.”
While roots took hold for the dairy farm the land proved well-suited for other endeavors. Kathy began raising Shetland sheep nine years ago for their beautiful wool which she makes into yarn, plus knit and felt products found in their store.
Anna’s path became clear early on. “I was interested in goat dairying in college. I went to Alfred State College for Veterinary Technology, graduated in 2007 and got my first goat. I worked in a vet clinic for almost 11 years, but this was more my direction,” she says. That led to a week-long class in Vermont studying cheesemaking under the tutelage of Peter Dixon, cheesemaker, teacher, and international cheese consultant.
Dixon’s knowledge and guidance has played an invaluable role in the resurrection and dedication to American farmstead and artisan cheese, as evidenced in Anna’s chèvre. Creamy and spreadable, it’s clean and bright, with subtle hints of fresh grass. And, there’s the anticipated subtle tang on the finish. Varieties include Garlic Chive, Tomato Basil, and Dill (my personal favorite for its infusion of a taste of Spring). Buffalo-style will be available this season. Pace yourself, you’ll want to save room for the ice cream … or maybe the fudge.
Beyond the goat milk goodness dished up several ways, get connected to your food through their Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) program or the generous—and ingenious—Farm Box. “Included in the subscription is our chevre, creamline cow’s milk, ice cream, eggs, pasture-raised meat, soap, baked goods, and some store items from local farms like jams, jellies, and a rotation of honey and cheese curds,” Anna says. “It gets delivered to your door for $80 a month.”
The farm store is open year-round providing cheese, milk, veggies, breads and pastries items, plus preserves, dry goods and spices. During warmer months, enjoy your treats at the picnic tables while watching the goat antics.
6681 County Route 27, Hornell, NY 14843; Phone 607-382-6158 facebook.com/stewartsfamilyfarm; www.stewartsfamilyfarm.com. Hours are Wednesday – Friday: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday: noon to 6 p.m.; Be sure to get Stewart’s soft-serve ice cream and freshly baked cinnamon rolls! (Saturdays only)
Ann Duckett is a writer, cheese educator and recovering cheesemonger. She delights in helping others find their cheese bliss through classes, events, and sharing stories of whey, wheels, and wedges.