Sow and Tell #12 – Mountainoak

“Farming is not only an occupation, it’s a way of living.” – Adam Van Bergeijk

Happy New Year, folks! We’re back and ready to rumble, and we’re starting our year off right with our next installment of the Sow and Tell series.

This time, we’re featuring Rick Mercer’s favourite dairy farmer and cheesemaker extraordinaire – Mountainoak!

Just to recap how Sow and Tell works: for all deliveries during the week of January 24th to the 27th, these delicious cheeses are on sale: Farmstead Mild 400g wedges, Farmstead Gold (both the 400g wedges and quarter wheels), and the Farmstead Smoked 400g wedges! You can find them by clicking the “Sale” icon at the top banner of our ordering website.

Rick Mercer & Adam Van Bergeijk

Mountainoak is located in New Hamburg, ON and is owned by Adam & Hannie Van Bergeijk, and their son Arjo and Arjo’s wife Baukje help to run the farm.  Cool tidbit: the name ‘Mountainoak’ is for the English translation of their Dutch family name – “Van Bergeijk” means “from the mountain oak.”

Originally, Adam and Hannie were dairy farmers from the Netherlands. They became interested in cheese making, and attended an artisanal cheese making school with over 300 years of history in Gouda itself, in the early 80’s. The cheeses they made in Holland grew in popularity, but eventually, they wanted to expand their dairy farm. Thus, they decided to emigrate to Canada, where they purchased their first farm in Wilmot Township in September, 1996. In the beginning, they actually had no plans to continue making cheese, instead choosing to focus on raising their herd.

As Adam and Hannie’s sons grew older and began to take over the farming and dairy herd duties, Adam and Hannie moved back towards making artisanal Dutch goudas. At first this was just for personal consumption, but as the popularity of their cheese grew, they decided to officially go into the cheese making biz!

As Adam explains himself, “everything you do with your cows is gonna be paid back in your milk,” and this is a philosophy they put into practice at Mountainoak. On 325 hectares of land, they grow feed, care for and milk their own herd of over 400 dairy cows, and use the 11,000 litres of high quality milk produced yearly to turn into their delicious artisanal cheeses. By being so involved with each step of the process, they can ensure that their milk has as much flavour as possible and that this is reflected in the caliber of the carefully crafted cheese.

They also care about ensuring the environmental sustainability of their farm and operation for future generations. Right now, their fresh water source for cheese production comes from a well, which requires softening and reverse osmosis to make it suitable for cheese making.  They had an assessment done by the Bloom centre for sustainability in conjunction with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario to see where they could conserve water use and be as efficient as possible. By doing so, the managed to reduce their water use by 25-30%! Once they completed their assessment, their next step is to evaluate other systems to increase water collection, such as recycling rainwater. All of this is done with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint of dairy farming and cheese making, which we’re totally on board with here at 100km!

The cheese varieties being featured this week are delectable and award winning! First we have the Farmstead Gold, a “full flavoured farmstead gouda that exudes hints of butterscotch and caramel,” aged for 18 months. The list of awards this cheese has won is extensive, some recent notables include the Reserve Grand Champion at the 2016 Royal Winter Fair, as well as 1st place in the British Empire Cheese Competition in 2015!

Next, we have the Farmstead Mild, which is aged 2-3 months and is “exceptionally smooth and creamy.” This cheese is A+ for melting, and won 1st place in the Class 4 Semi-Firm Cheese at the British Empire Cheese competition in 2016.

We are also featuring their Farmstead Smoked – which takes the creamy, Farmstead Mild and uses an apple wood smoke to give it a beautiful smoky flavour! This cheese is also fantastic and award winning – they’ve won first place twice at the British Empire Cheese competition in both 2014 and 2015.

Now is your chance to get your hands on some of these amazing varieties of Dutch made gouda! The Sow and Tell sale applies to all deliveries from January 24th to January 27th, 2017. Many thanks to Sandy, Adam and the rest of the team at Mountainoak for participating in this Sow and Tell!

By : Genrys Goodchild