Q&A with Heather Donahue of Balfour Farm
Balfour Farm, an off grid solar powered farm, is known as one of Maine's most treasured farmstead creameries. With deep-rooted traditions and a commitment to quality, this Maine-based dairy farm has earned a reputation for providing top-notch dairy products to the region. Balfour Farms' dedication to sustainable farming practices and the welfare of its dairy herd is evident in every product they produce.
What is your passion? Tell us about it.
A. Our love of cows has led us to create this life of cheesemaking on a small organic dairy farm in Maine.
What inspired you to pursue this passion? Tell us the story.
A. We started with one family milk cow, Blackie. She was the most unlikely cow to build a business on. She was half Hereford and Half Holstein-commonly known as a balck baldie in the diary world. As half beef breed and half dairy, she was a far cry from the standard milk cow. She was all black with a white face and a black spot around one eye. She had enormous horns. She gave a lot of milk for a very short period of time. We started to play around with other things to do with the milk- yogurt, pudding, cheese etc. Cheese was the most viable option to turn our hobby farm into a business. One cow became 20, which became 50. We started shipping organic milk and when we moved from Northern NY to Maine, we made the leap to become a licensed creamery. Thirteen years later, we have a solid foundation for our farm and our business is growing due to a dedicated customer base.
What makes your creation unique?
A. Our cheeses are hand crafted from Normande milk. The Normande breed is from France, and highly valued for their ability to convert grass into milk and meat. The milk they give is very rich and gives a high yield of cheese. Our farm is completely off the grid and about 85% of our power is derived from solar. Our cheeses are aged in an underground cave that we built. This creates an environment that evokes flavors of olde world England and the basis of our cheeses recipes.
Tell us about your creative process.
A. Our cheeses are modeled after our favorite English style cheddars and flavors unique to the location we have in Maine. We aim to be true to the process of creating farmstead cheeses that are enjoyable for everyone.
Who is your audience? How do you engage them?
A. We reach people looking for unique flavor experiences and that value the farmstead production of food over commercial factory produced foods. We attend farmers markets- where visitors ar etalking to the farmers and cheesemaker when they visit our stand. We engage people through social media- Facebook, Instagram and a YouTube channel to tell the story of our farm and the products we produce. We also attend local fairs and host on farm events for people to meet the cows and learn on site about what we do.
What experience does your passion create? What can recipients expect?
A. People who enjoy our cheeses can experience the "Balfour Board" experience- creating an entire cheese board with the variety of cheese we produce as well as our new charcuterie items.
Where can your creations be found?
A. At the Portland Farmers Market (Maine), local food coops, independent grocery stores, cheese shops, online through our website, with online ordering and a full listing of locations carrying our products.
What is next?
A. Focusing on expanding our production and distribution to share the world of cheese with more people!