Meet Our Members | September 2021
Name and Occupation: Sarah Gilliatt
Business: Main Street Cheese
After several decades of working on sustainable agriculture policy for non-profits and teaching Gandhian nonviolence, socially-engaged Buddhism and economic localization, Sarah Gilliatt wanted to take a break and become an actual practitioner – a producer in her own right.
She had helped care for goats and dabbled in cheese making when living in New Mexico and taken courses at the Vermont Institute of Artisanal Cheese. So she decided to move into what had been her grandmother’s home in Hancock, New Hampshire and produce cheese commercially.
“This property carries so many wonderful memories for me and reverberates with her spirit,” Sarah explains. “I was very fortunate to take care of my mother as her health was declining and she was dying in what was her mother’s house. It’s so rare in today’s world to be living in a place that my ancestors poured their love and energy into. To be linked with ancestors in this endeavor is very special. My wish for this business is that it will benefit future generations.”
Sarah bought her initial goat herd in the summer of 2012, got licensed in 2013, and opened her honor-system shop on Hancock’s 2013 Old Home Day. She has had as many as 15 milking goats, but Sarah is now seeking a buyer for her milkers and buying milk for her cheese. She’s selling the hoop house where the goats live, the milkers, and all the farm equipment. If the buyer is not too far from Hancock, she’d love to buy milk from the buyer for the cheese. It’s a wonderful opportunity for someone who wants to get into goat farming.
“I want to gradually develop more community educational events around sustainable agriculture and regenerative economics. My plan is to initiate conversations and community conviviality at cheese tastings in my garden about how localization along with good agricultural and economic policy can be life affirming for our troubled world. I believe that delicious, nutritious, sustainably-produced food for local consumption is one of the best ways we can help our ailing world.”
"I love cheese making,” she exclaims. “I get to feel the curds and whey, notice how they are different from the previous batch and participate in the complexity of the microbial processes as it unfolds before me. Its one of those processes, like art, where you keep seeing how presence matters; and how reverence in the process inevitably yields a more wonderful cheese.“
“Milk is a living thing, full of wonderful bacteria that are very active during fermentation. As such, it is delicate and should be treated with care and presence in the cheese making process. There is so much that is invisible that can be attended to if we will – as is true of all life!”
Sarah’s honor-system shop in her barn sells cheese, raw milk, yogurt and frozen goat meat 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. She also sells at the Peterborough farmers market, and her cheese is available at Roy’s and Nature’s Green Grocer in Peterborough.
“When we’re involved in food production, our advocacy for just and resilient food systems gains power,” Sarah continues “It connects us with the natural world and provides immediate feedback, so we learn what is real and true. For me, that is scientific. We need more of that today.”
“Farmers and food producers can contribute toward climate remediation by increasing local production for local consumption. Farmers are connected with the land. They know what to do. Healthy soil practices build biodiversity, sequester carbon and improve water cycles, which can help cool the planet. Working like this can help farmers be successful. Life is a whole. This is a profound shift from the worldviews of separation that have dominated our culture for so long.”
“Having a community of like-minded people is so important, and NOFA-NH provides that. Its practical workshops are frankly awe-inspiring. It’s also linked with the other seven NOFA state chapters plus national and international allies. That structure is essential to really turn this ship around.”
“I hope love carries all the way through. May eaters experience all that aliveness—the sheer pleasure, the celebration, and the love for life. That is my wish."
—Interview and Article by Karl Johnson, Board President
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