Monday, March 30, 2009

Cheese subscriptions...

Here's something new.  You've heard of buying a piece of a cow in order to get milk? Or a share in a farm in order to get fresh produce? Now you can buy a subscription to a cheese dairy.

Monforte's Ruth Klahsen sells 'subscriptions' to build a new dairy

Ms. Klahsen was the first artisan cheesemaker to get major attention from both Toronto chefs and food critics alike, touching off a revolution in the artisan cheese world and encouraging countless artisans to follow in her footsteps...

But making ends meet isn't easy for an artisanal dairy in Ontario. In Vermont, a budding cheesemaker can launch an operation with $40,000 and a credit card. Here, in this province, it costs closer to $1-million to build a regulation dairy.Subscribers typically buy a "share" in the farm's harvest. Last year, I paid $770 to a farmer and received about $35 worth of produce a week, over a 25-week growing season.

Farmers like the model because it allows them to raise money at the beginning of the growing season, when they need it most. Consumers like it because it allows them to participate in the production of their food - without having to wield a hoe.

This is the first time this financial model has been applied to a food processor.

"I hope this gets copied by everybody," says Ms. Klahsen, who has so far raised $60,000 through subscriptions.

She needs to raise at least $300,000 via subscriptions before she can access bigger-ticket loans from banks and government...

For more info, go to

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