The Farm at Doe Run – Chester County, PA

Last week I blogged about my recent trip to Chester County, PA, an up-and-coming cheese region that has seen the growth of specialty cheese develop at warp speed in the last decade. It’s exciting to see this pastoral wonderland just west of Philadelphia rediscover its dairy roots.

In an earlier era, this prime farmland supplied Philadelphia and other colonial cities with produce, meat and dairy, as well as exported goods back to Europe. With the resurgence of fine cheese made locally, it was only a matter of time before enterprising cheesemakers took the plunge.

While on assignment photographing for Cheese Connoisseur magazine, I had a chance to visit several farms of varying size and scale.(The photos in this article are the “not-selects” for the article which will come out in the Summer edition – can’t wait to share all the gorgeous shots!)

We were lucky to be able to visit The Farm at Doe Run on the final afternoon of my trip and, I must admit, the farm exceeded all my expectations.

Doe Run - Cows grazing at dusk-5683Set amongst rolling farmland with neat fences and historic stone buildings, this working landscape was a joy to behold. Recently constructed buildings – including the barn, cheesemaking facility and aging caves as well as housing for key team-members – use native stone and architecture that fits the colonial energy of the area.

The dairy is unique in that Jersey cows, East Fresian sheep and Nubian goats all share the pasture and graze rotationally through the 700 acres. The ethos is on sustainable production of both dairy/cheese and vegetables, which show up on the menu at local restaurants.

Doe Run - Matt, Stacey & Samuel -5646

 

The cheese operation is only a few years old and the team of young cheesemakers who steer the ship benefit from the passion of the behind the scenes investor/owner, a PA native who made his fortune in clothing. Read more here.

Knowledgeable, dedicated, cheerful and passionate about crafting great cheese and working in harmony with nature, the cheesemaking and marketing team (right) have strong backgrounds in culinary arts, microbiology and marketing – a great combination for any cheesemaking startup.

 

The cheeses are excellent – from the soft and pungent Hummingbird and funky Barn Owl to Bathed-in-Victory which combines cheese and local beer from Victory Brewing into a tasty round of deliciousness.

Aged cheeses Seven Sisters and St. Malachi are complex, balanced and full flavored, with a sweet, crystalline crunch from careful aging in the gleaming aging caves.

Barn Owl Bathed In Victory - Doe Run

While many of the cheeses stay close to home, I have no doubt they will show up in the cases of fine cheese shops around the country. Keep an eye out – you won’t be disappointed!

I was lucky enough to discover their cheeses a few years back en route to Dickinson College for my reunion. My friend Emilio from DiBruno Brothers shared some of what was happening on the PA Cheese scene and, after just a few bites, I knew my home state was a rising star in the world of cheese. It was such a treat to visit and see how many lovely cheeses are being made in this beautiful part of the country.

Christine at Doe Run with Goat-5626One final image to share – and one of the big perks of my job…getting to snuggle a week old baby goat 🙂 Serious memories of holding my newborns – the little heartbeat and complete trust of that tiny creature melting into you. <3 It’s the sweetest thing…truly.