Member Spotlight:

September 2022

Clover Mountain Dairy

At Evergreen Creamery, cheesemaking is our passion. We use only the finest and freshest milk to create cheeses that will tickle your taste buds and warm your heart. Order some cheese, come visit or look for us in your local market; you surely won’t be disappointed.

| New Kids on the Block

Clover Mountain Dairy is a tiny farmstead creamery in Chewelah, Washington. While they have been a dairy farm for some time, the family just started making cheeses in 2021.

Image courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy

| Destined for Cheesemaking

Clover Mountain Dairy is owned by Stacy and Virginia Thomas. Fun fact: their first date was to a cheese factory in Wisconsin! Stacy and Virginia both got into cheesemaking because they are both fascinated by the art and science of the trade. As a seasonal dairy, they also wanted a way to extend their harvest and have dairy products available during the dry period.

Photo of Virginia courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy

| Self-Taught, But Supported

Virginia and Stacy Thomas are mostly self-taught as cheesemakers. They have gained their skills by reading books, experimenting in the vat, and learning from their cheesemaker mentors who are always available to answer questions for them. It is just the two of them making cheese on the farm with no employees other than their herd of cows.

Image of Stacy courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy

| Seasonality and Variety

Clover Mountain Dairy is a seasonal dairy, which means that they make cheese only during the summer, fall, and winter months from May through February when their small herd of cows is lactating. The cows dry off in the spring, so there is no milk during that time of the year. In the summer, Clover Mountain Dairy makes fresh cheese, such as Feta, Labneh, and Cheddar curds. In autumn, they make harder, pressed cheeses: Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Tamarack (a gouda-style cheese). According to Virginia and Stacy, “Our goal is to make the most delicious cheese possible from our high-quality milk. We chose these cheeses because we enjoy them, we are able to make them in our small facility, and we correctly guessed our local customers would love them too.”

Image courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy

| Model Dairy Farm

Clover Mountain Dairy’s herd are 100% New Zealand Jersey cows. The cows have all been tested for A2/A2 milk, which some people find is more easily digestible than milk with A1 casein proteins. The dairy is also 100-percent grass-fed, meaning that the cows forage on the farm’s pastures during the late spring, summer, and early fall, and then are fed dried grass (also known as hay!) during the cold, rainy months when they can’t be out in the fields. The farm is Certified Organic, so all of the pastures and hay the cows consume is also Certified Organic. Another special fact about Clover Mountain Dairy’s herd is their philosophy on animal husbandry: the calves are not separated from their mothers, so they grow up alongside their moms and share the milk supply with the creamery.

Image courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy

| Everyone Has a Favorite

When asked which of Clover Mountain Dairy’s cheeses are their favorites, owners Stacy and Virginia Thomas couldn’t pick one.

Virginia said her favorite is their pepperjack: “It’s a true cheese of the American West with cracked black pepper and red chili flakes that resonates with the pioneer heritage of our area.”

Meanwhile, Stacy said his favorite is their gouda-style cheese: “It is named after my favorite tree, Tamarack, with green needles that turn golden in the fall, just like how our cows turn green grass into delicious golden cheese.”

Image courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy

| Rare, Delicious Goods

Cheese isn’t the only dairy product you can get from Clover Mountain Dairy, and it’s actually the newest addition to the farm’s lineup. Clover Mountain Dairy has only been making cheese for two years now. Before the cheese came about, they made whole cream-top vat pasteurized milk, flavored milk, and yogurt—all of which are still available. But if you want to buy of any of these products right now, you have to go to Chewelah to get them. Clover Mountain Dairy offers pick-up from the farm by appointment, and they sell at the Chewelah Farmer’s Market. (They are hoping to get cheeses into other areas once they have more inventory, though!)

Image courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy

| Five-Cow Rating

Have you heard of the Cornucopia Institute? The 501(c)(3) organization’s mission is to educate folks about “the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture.” They run a scorecard program that ranks companies based on their sustainability—and Clover Mountain Dairy recently received a 5-cow rating from the institute! Clover Mountain Dairy is one of only 32 dairy-industry companies nationwide to receive the top rating, and there are only two such companies in the state of Washington. Congratulations, Clover Mountain Dairy!

Image Courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy

| Building a Cave

There’s been big news on the farm at Clover Mountain Dairy this summer. This past winter, the creamery received an Organic Producer Grant from PCC Community Markets, a regional high-end grocery-store chain based in the greater Seattle area. The grant has allowed Clover Mountain Dairy to install a cheese aging cave on their farm—which means they will have more space to age more cheeses! The cheese cave-building project is ongoing: first they excavated a section of land across from the farm’s creamery; then they had a concrete water tank delivered and sunk into the spot. They’ve now built a retaining wall around it and added water and ventilation duct work. Soon they will cut a door in the cave and start preparing it to become the temporary home of some delicious cheeses. Once they are able to start using the cave to build up a stock of cheese, Clover Mountain Dairy will be able to sell cheese beyond their local area—which means more of us will be able to get it regularly!

Image courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy’s Facebook page

| Cheesemakers Amid Community

Virginia and Stacy Thomas of Clover Mountain Dairy say that, like most new cheesemakers, they have had a steep learning curve during their journey. “As a small, seasonal dairy, we are slowly building up our cheese business. Yet we have really enjoyed the community of Washington cheesemakers.” We are so glad they have become part of our community of cheesemakers, and we can’t wait to watch them grow.

Image courtesy of Clover Mountain Dairy