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State Board of Agriculture Visits Futuristic Farming Operation
For Immediate Release: June 22, 2005 Contact:

Lynne Richmond

(LONG VALLEY) – Sheep usually bring to mind wool, not cheese. But one clever farmer has taken the unusual and turned it into a cutting edge business that combines preserved farmland with an agri-tourism operation and direct and wholesale marketing.

The New Jersey State Board of Agriculture today toured Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley, Morris County, which produces handmade cheeses using sheep milk. The farm is currently milking 150 sheep on 120 acres of preserved farmland. The operation includes an in-ground aging cave, built into a mountainside, complete with a glass wall public viewing gallery.

“In New Jersey, some farmers are moving from traditional to innovative farming, such as this sheep milk operation,” said New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. “It is these farmers who access a unique niche in the marketplace who will help make the agricultural industry strong as we move ahead in the 21st century.”

Owner, Eran Wajswol, and State Board of Agriculture
President Peter Melick, outside Wajswol's cheese shop

Valley Shepherd Creamery is unique in that it is using a rotating milking parlor for sheep; conveyor feeding belts for sheep; an underground aging cave; and employs ultra modern animal waste management, turning the waste into compost for later sale.

The farm also is an agri-tourism facility, offering tours of the facility and an educational gallery.

The facility produces 400 pounds of sheep cheese each week, which is sold from community farmers markets in New Jersey to fine food stores throughout the United States. The operation also is a Grade A processor of yogurt, cream cheese and other dairy products.

Valley Shepherd is a registered Jersey Fresh Dairy Producer and Processor, the first operation licensed under the new rule established by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to aid in Jersey Fresh milk marketing. In addition, the farm is utilizing the Garden State Dairy Alliance – which provides support to dairy farmers to help sustain a viable and thriving dairy industry in the state – as well as the milk quality program to aid in the production of cheese and yogurt.

“Valley Shepherd is a good example of new-use agriculture that has growing public acceptance,” said Secretary Kuperus. “New Jersey citizens welcome these unique products produced on our Garden State farms. I believe we will see more innovative agricultural operations and products in the future.”