Cheese curds, cow-naming rights, or a plate at an on-farm harvest meal are all available through the just-launched Kickstarter campaign by Redhead Creamery, Minnesota's newest cheese producer. Alise Sjostrom, the head redhead and cheesemaker, grew up on her parent's dairy farm in Stearns County, about an hour west of St. Cloud. While she always wanted to return to the farm, a trip to Wisconsin 10 years ago inspired her to tell her dad, "We're going to make cheese; I don't want to milk cows."
Now, in order to build a creamery on her parents' farm, Alise and her husband, Lucas, are looking for support from the community and cheese lovers everywhere. In return, contributors will receive rewards like those mentioned above, ranging from a recipe card to a personal cheese tour. Of course, cheese is also an option. Their campaign can be found at Kickstarter.com in the food section at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/redhead/redhead-creamerys-cheese-needs-to-come-home.
Redhead Creamery is a partnership of the Sjostroms and Alise's parents, Jerry and Linda, at Jer-Lindy Farms. Despite a redheaded cheesemaker (and three sisters of the same shade), the new plant aims to be "green" and off the grid. Using whey leftover from cheesemaking to help power the farm, and geothermal energy to heat much of the water used in the plant, Redhead Creamery aims to be carbon-neutral or better.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site where people can launch or expand businesses or ideas in return for rewards. As in this case, many of the rewards are prototypes or not yet created, requiring the campaign's capital to get started. Redhead Creamery's rewards are:
$10 a thank you on their Facebook page and website
$20 a hand-written recipe postcard
$25 50 early contributors can get cheese for almost half-price
$30 contributors' names written on cheese plant's wall of fame
$40 a half pound of Redhead Creamery cheese
$50 admission to a cheese class taught by "Cheese Alise"
$60 a Redhead Creamery t-shirt plus cheese
$80 a cow named after (or by) the contributor
$100 Redhead Creamery clothing and accessories
$150 Farm dinner with everything harvested from the farm
$250 intimate tour of the farm
$500 make cheese with Redhead Creamery
$1000 intimate farm dinner
Despite her wishes when she was younger, Alise does enjoy milking cows today and hopes to provide the same lifestyle for their infant daughter and the ability to share it with the community. Sjostrom is teaching a community education cheese class in Sauk Centre this fall and would love to do more education down the road. The funds would cover less than 10% of the proposed project, but will allow the Sjostroms, ages 27 and 26, to gain equity in the farm business and eventually take ownership.
For more information and updates, visit www.redheadcreamery.com or www.facebook.com/RedheadCreamery.