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7 8 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t MEET YOUR MAKERS Introducing the people across the country behind the food we love to eat by Jesse Hom-Dawson ■cr Sid Cook Master Cheesemaker at Carr Valley Cheese in La Valle, Wisconsin WHEN SID COOK SAYS HE COMES FROM a family of cheesemakers, he means it. The Cook family began making cheese in Wisconsin in 1883 and bought their first factory in 1902. Sid got his cheesemaker's license when he was only 16, although he notes, "My par- ents were cheesemakers, and my grandparents were cheesemakers. I was making cheese long before I was 16." In 1976, Cook and his brother bought their father's Irish Valley cheese factory and began making their own cheeses, and then Cook branched out to pur- chase his own factory in 1986, which became Carr Valley Cheese. "I had this artisan-type business before anyone thought it was 'artisan'," Cook reminisces. "Now cheese-making has a certain cachet, like winemaking or sausage-making." Currently Carr Valley Cheese manufactures 95 different cow, sheep and goat cheeses in four factories and has won more than 600 awards for its cheeses. "We buy our milk from 40 to 50 different farms though a cooperative," Cook explains. "That ends up making about five millions pounds of cheese each year!" While Wisconsin staples such as cheddar, colby, swiss and fontina are naturally part of the lineup, the company also produces ten blue cheeses and 15 different types of smoked cheese. Carr Valley has its own website with cheese for sale direct-to-consumer, but they also sell to distributors, wholesalers and chefs and operate eight of their own retail stores in south central Wisconsin. Naturally, Cook's daughter and son have gotten involved in the cheese-making business as well. When asked what his favorite cheese is, Cook laughs. "That's like choosing your favorite kid! I have about 15 different kinds of cheese in my fridge right now, including a six-year aged cheddar and an aged Marisa made with sheep's milk. It's what I love to do, making all these wonderful different cheeses from different milk types. I'm just trying to make the best product possible." Janae Ebert Owner of Shine On Farms in Mendocino County, California ALTHOUGH CANNABIS FARMS HAVE BEEN around for many years, most have been underground operations due to the complicated issues of marijuana legalization. However, there are farms operating legally to provide medical marijuana to those who need it, and Shine On Farms is a "shining" example. Janae Ebert and her boyfriend started Shine On Farms in 2013, leasing 180 acres of farmland in Anderson Valley, CA. "Typically, it can be hard to grow cannabis or any sort of plants where there's a dense fog layer," Ebert explains, "but our farm is at 1,800 feet elevation, above the fog layer, which provides perfect weather for growing." Currently, California law only permits 10,000 square feet per farm for growing cannabis, which is less than half an acre, so Ebert uses the other farmland to grow "a ton of vegetables. It's the perfect climate for growing tomatoes, melons and pep- pers, among other things. We have our nursery license and sell the veggies to our local health food store and farmer's markets in Mendocino." The farmland is off the grid and powered exclusively by solar panels. Ebert plants the cannabis seeds in February, and the plants are moved into the ground in June. Harvest starts in September and can go all the way to November, depending on the strain. Shine On plants up to 20 strains, including a high-CBD, low-THC strain called Ringo's Gift. The farm is part of a cooperative that helps distribute their product all over the state. Ebert admits, "Our growing season is from the beginning of February to the end of November, so we don't have a lot of time to drive all over the state to drop our products off at dispensaries. We're so lucky to be part of a co-op that helps us do that." Although the legalization of marijuana in California promises good things for the cannabis farmers in the state, the future is still uncertain. But Ebert is optimistic: "We set up our business really well. Everything we do is legal; we're an LLC, and we already put the steps in motion years ago when we knew legalization was imminent. The most important thing is being a craft farmer and knowing what you are doing and doing it the right way. We won't sell out to a big corporation, and we want to protect our craft."

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