After meeting back in 2008 in college and then working together for nearly five years on a Vermont goat dairy, Alex Eaton and Margot Brooks purchased their 23-acre farm in Upper Jay. The land base was small, the pastures were overgrown and full of weeds, and the soil was sour and lacking in nutrients, but what the little farm lacked in agricultural virtues it made up for in other ways. There were two farmhouses, both in good condition, and a number of pretty outbuildings that were deemed “straight, tight, and right” by Alex’s dad Mr. Maxwell Eaton Jr. With its proximity to Lake Placid and the Adirondack high peaks, the farm was in an ideal location for marketing value-added dairy products. And lastly, there was the crown jewel of the farm, a handsome and sturdy Dutch gambrel barn outfitted with twelve cow stalls-- the perfect space to house a milkhouse, a milking parlor, a creamery and an office.
Alex and Margot were inspired by the vacant little farm and could see the potential for a perfectly compact farmstead creamery akin to the small European models of yesteryear, where grazing ruminants produce milk that is turned into cheeses that are aged and sold right there on the farm. They were motivated by a desire to live well, eat well, put their ideals into practice and ultimately to contribute positively to the world. So in the summer of 2012, they bought the farm and set to work writing a business plan, securing a start-up loan, then gathering the equipment and building the infrastructure they would need to make their vision a reality.
And it worked! But the learning curve was steep and the obstacles were many. By the winter of 2014 A & M were feeling the burn of years one and two and were wondering how they could keep up the pace, when entered Casey Galligan. After two years of volunteering with the Peace Corps in Panama, Casey had found small-scale agriculture and cheesemaking as the means to a life she could feel truly good about living. Her cheesemaking journey had started in France, then taken her to Vermont and eventually the Adirondacks where she found SHC. It was all perfect timing, and just like that they became a team sharing in the labor of pasturing, milking, cheesemaking, affinage, weekly farmers markets, and all the rest!
In July of 2017 Harriet Wren Eaton Brooks joined the crew. A fresh little human who will learn the pleasure of rising early to milk cows each morning, of hay bale forts and pasture romps, of cutting into a wheel of Dutch Knuckle and taking a whiff of milk preserved like a time capsule. She will serve as a constant reminder to A & M to be their best selves and to operate always with authenticity.
The future of Sugar House Creamery does not look radically different than the present. There are no plans of drastic changes or expansions, only a continuous effort to fine-tune and polish the foundation that has already been built—a continued march toward a smaller carbon footprint, waste reduction, product excellence, and long-term viability.