Otter Creek Seasonal Cheddar – made from milk produced by the Zimmer family dairy herd near Spring Green, Wisconsin – is currently in production at Cedar Grove Cheese in Plain by Master Cheesemaker Bob Wills. Bob & the Zimmers have struck upon marketing genius: making cheese from milk produced during each of the four seasons and labeling it as spring, summer, fall and summer cheddar.
Not only is this savvy marketing, it’s a great story.
Gary and Rosie Zimmer started their Wisconsin farm in the 1970’s, raising their children on the land and instilling in them an interest in agriculture and conservation. In 1994, Gary, Rosie and their son Nicholas bought Otter Creek Farm, in the rolling hills of Spring Green.
Originally a crop farm, the family decided to move into organic dairy and bought 40 dairy cows. Nicholas Zimmer and three other families now run Otter Creek Organic Farm, a 1,200 acre farmstead that includes: 250 cows, pasture-raised beef and hogs, free-range poultry, and Local Choice Farm Market, where Otter Creek Farm products are sold.
At Otter Creek, healthy soils and healthy animals are top priorities. Gary Zimmer is a pioneer of a special type of farming called “mineralized balanced agriculture,’ which means farmers grow their own fertilizers, learn which fertilizers are best for their farm, and use farming practices that encourage beneficial organisms living in the soil. At Otter Creek Farm, this translates into a wide-range of innovative practices that produce high yields and healthy crops and animals.
Now the Zimmers are turning their high quality milk into a high quality organic, pasture grazed, natural, raw milk Cheddar cheese. Cheese is produced with milk during each season and labeled accordingly. Here’s a sampling of how the labels read:
Spring: the cows that produced this cheese grazed on our Wisconsin pastures of clover, rye and green grasses.
Summer: the cows that produced this cheese grazed on Wisconsin pastures of mixed grass, young corn, sorghum, alfalfa and clover.
Fall: the cows that produced this cheese grazed on Wisconsin pastures of mature rye, alfalfa, clover & late season annuals.
Winter: the cows that produced this cheese were fed on fermented alfalfa and grasses from our Wisconsin pastures.
How cool is this? The cheese will be packaged in parchment paper and sold 60 days after it’s produced. So in summer, you can buy spring cheese – in fall, you can buy summer cheese, etc. Look for the first packages to hit stores later this summer.