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Cheese business booming at Berry Farms Jersey Milk; students build reputation in specialty cheeses

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Cheese-appreciating Romans may want to make their lives better by visiting The Berry Farms Jersey Milk Student College Enterprise, where they can not only find a variety of all-natural cheeses but also see the cows responsible for the milk that goes into it.

The enterprise offers a line of artisan cheeses made from milk from Berry’s own Jersey cows. For several years now, students have been responsible for marketing the cheese and keeping up with the day-to-day operations, while a company owned by a Berry alumni is responsible for crafting the cheese.

“About seven years ago, we started working with Berry College,” said Karen Green, co-owner of Udderly Cool Dairy in Roopville. “My husband graduated from Berry and he had always worked with dairies. We found out they were not bottling their own milk anymore and wanted to find something else to do with it.”

Green and her husband, Jeff, built a creamery on their property and began picking up milk from the Rollins Dairy at Berry.

“It’s wonderful, because we can focus on the making of the cheese, since we do not have to worry about taking care of a herd,” she said. “Also, working with the students is so much fun and Berry’s so beautiful, it’s a pleasure to go there.”

Jake Bruce, the general manager of Jersey Milk, is a junior marketing major at Berry. He said the idea of working with the dairy was a huge draw for him.

“When I heard about it, I had to be involved,” he said. “I just thought there was so much opportunity there. I pursued the position.”

Bruce and several of his student coworkers have increased the number of products available and are anticipating a strong, record-breaking year for sales.

“We sell the cheese to several local restaurants and through all of the farmers markets, as well as online and at the dairy,” he said.

Once customers try the cheese, they are often hooked, the students said.

“At markets, people come up because they are curious,” said Jennifer Wayman, a sophomore animal science major. “Once they try it, they usually have to buy some.”

Jersey Milk offers six types of cheeses: Gouda, Applewood Smoked Gouda, Gouda Gold, Jack, Jack and Dill, and the newest, Farmer’s Cheese.

“We have a lot of people ask us for cheddar,” said Nick Jacobs, a freshman business major. “We show them the Farmer’s Cheese, because it has a similar taste.”

Because Udderly Cool Dairy makes the cheese and brings it straight back to Berry, all of the Jersey Milk products are fresh, Bruce said.

“I think people really like knowing where the product is coming from,” he said. “Udderly Cool is only 45 minutes away and I think our cheese being made locally is a big benefit.”

Bruce said he hopes to see Jersey Milk branch out more, but right now he is just happy to build up the brand.

“We are always talking with members of the other student-run enterprises, thinking up ideas,” he said. “I’ve thought about maybe creating a cutting board for our company with Viking Furniture or finding a way to incorporate herbs from Martha’s Herbs or using the honey from the Berry Bees. I am very excited about the idea of collaboration between the enterprises.”

The students also have visited Udderly Cool to help make the cheese.

“They came out and made Jack cheese,” said Green. “They had the gloves, the aprons, the works. It was great. I’m hoping we can get them to come again.”

For her part, Green also sees the creamery branching out, but she enjoys making speciality, small-batch cheese and the reactions she gets.

“When I tell people I make cheese they are usually surprised,” she said, laughing. “Then they get really interested. I love to let customers know you don’t have to be a big company, you can do it and keep it clean and simple and sustainable.”

The Jersey Milk cheese is available at the Rollins Dairy on Berry College’s campus or on the Jersey Milk website. Customers also may call the Jersey Milk office at 706-378-2930 or email jerseymilk@berry.edu to place an order.