Clock Shadow Creamery Brings Urban Cheesemaking to Milwaukee
Tomorrow sees the opening of America’s newest venture in urban cheesemaking.
Named after the nearby famed Allen-Bradley clock tower,
Clock Shadow Creamery is located in the historic Walker’s Point area of Milwaukee and is the vision of cheesemaker Bob Wills.
Bob, who also owns and operates the progressive
Cedar Grove Cheese facility in addition to wearing several other hats is, by any standards, a remarkable man. Over the years he has supported many start-up cheesemakers by renting out vat space, thereby allowing then to develop and refine their cheeses - awards winners such as Upland’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Willi Lehner’s Clothbound Cheddar among them. In addition, Wills is deeply committed to energy reduction, recycling and the environment, installing one of the country’s only “living machines” at his Cedar Grove facility - a device whereby wash water is cleaned and recycled with the use of plants.
With Clock Shadow Creamery, Wills’ environmental and social mission is equally evident. When I visited last week, Bob and cheesemaker Ron Henningfeld showed me round the new building.
For starters, 50% of all the building materials are sourced from recycled products - even down to door handles being fashioned from broken broom sticks. There is an energy-generating elevator (one of the first of its kind, manufactured by Otis) to the offices and yoga studio on the second floor and if you want to take the stairs, you’ll be treading on ash floorboards made from naturally downed ash trees. The building is heated on a geothermal system and all the whey and wash-water is reserved and then transported for composting. I could go on…
As far as social mission, it is Wills and Henningfeld’s aim to allow incubator cheesemakers to rent vat space in the creamery, hopefully drawing aspiring inner city cheesemakers to put their dreams into reality and invigorate the cheese scene.
Cheeses produced at Clock Shadow are likely to be of the fresher variety, with a view of supplying local neighborhoods that are home to a large hispanic population. However, in the retail store attached to the creamery, it will be possible to buy both a variety of Wisconsin’s finest cheeses along with other food related products - and all the while, its possible to view the cheesemaking thought large plate glass windows.
So hearty congratulations to Wills and co for this remarkable new initiative. The clear hope is that it will lead to greater integration and understanding of cheese production where perhaps its needed most - in the inner cities as well as providing employment and sustenance.
Equally, if proven successful, there is also every hope this model could be duplicated elsewhere.
Writer and passionate cheese advocate Jeanne Carpenter has also written about Clock Shadow on her blog, Cheese Underground. You can read about it here.