PIPE, Wis. – LaClare Farms, maker of the current U.S. Championship Evalon goat's milk cheese, broke ground today on a new 35,000 sq. ft. farmstead dairy plant in eastern Wisconsin.
The new dairy will be on State Hwy 151, north of the village of Pipe on the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago. Owned by the Larry and Clara Hedrich family of Chilton, the facility includes plans for a state-of-the-art dairy plant, retail store and café, milking parlor with housing for 600 milking goats. The facility will be capable of processing cow, goat and sheep milk, and will be a specialty dairy production and aging facility for custom processing as well as their own products.
“Building this farmstead dairy plant allows us to bring the next generation of Hedrich family members back to the farm,” Larry Hedrich said. “Our goal is to be one of the top sustainable agricultural enterprises in the nation, and with the talent our team brings to this operation, we will be.”
The new farmstead dairy plant allows the Hedrich family to expand their current offering of goat’s milk and mixed milk cheeses, including Evalon, Fresh Chevre, Cheddar, Fondy Jack and American Originals crafted by the Hedrichs’ daughter, Katie Hedrich, the reigning U.S. Championship Cheesemaker. The facility will also be capable of aging cheese in curing rooms, as well as producing cultured products and bottled milk. The couple’s son, Greg Hedrich, is the business manager of the integrated agricultural enterprise. Three additional daughters: Heather, Jessica and Anna, will work part-time for LaClare Farms in human resources, marketing and herd management roles while continuing their off enterprise jobs. All five siblings hold university degrees in subjects ranging from marketing to human resources to dairy science to education.
“The key is each one of the children is not forced into one role,” Larry Hedrich said. “They each chose to go to college, worked in the public/private sector for a number of years and now have chosen to bring their skills back to the family enterprise. We are beyond thrilled to have the next generation back on the farm.” The enterprise also brings the talents of Larry’s cousin John Jenkins on board.
“I am very pleased that Fond du Lac County has been able to assist LaClare Farms in making the Hedrich Family’s dream a reality”, stated Allen Buechel, Fond du Lac County Executive. “This small business will have a positive impact on the County’s economy”.
The groundbreaking of the new farmstead creamery plant is just the latest example of Wisconsin’s thriving artisan and farmstead cheesemaking industry. The amount of specialty cheese produced in the state has doubled in the past 10 years, and today accounts for 22 percent of the state’s total cheese production. Ninety of the state’s 126 cheese plants craft at least one type of specialty cheese, up from 77 plants five years ago.
"The Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation has enjoyed working with the Hedrich Family on this important project. This has been a true collaborative effort involving the County, FCEDC, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and Calumet County Bank”, according to Steve R. Jenkins, President of FCEDC. “This farmstead dairy will provide both value-added milk production and cheese processing as well as retail sales through the store and café”.
The new LaClare farmstead dairy plant is expected to be up and running by early summer, 2013. In addition to crafting LaClare Farm products, the Hedrichs plan to rent out space to dairy processors to help launch new products and to work with beginning dairy entrepreneurs to develop their new products. The facility will also offer viewing windows into the milking parlor, dairy plant and cheese aging room which will be available to the public.
For more information, visit www.laclarefarm.com or call Larry Hedrich at 920-849-2926.