Sally Jackson closes down: with new regulation, how can small cheesemakers stay in business?
I just heard that that Sally Jackson, owner and cheesemaker of Sally Jackson Cheeses in the Okanagan Highlands, WA has announced she is selling her animals and her business.
This comes after a recent recall of her cheeses, compounded by a separate demand that her business meet Grade A Dairy standards - something not normally required of cheesemakers making aged cheeses.
This is such a tough way to go out. Sally was such an incredible trailblazer for cheesemaking in the Pacific NW. On many levels this makes me so, so sad. I first started buying cheese from Sally back in 1998, while working at Cowgirl Creamery, after a two year 'courtship' to persuade her that we were a worthy customer! During that time we spoke about every two weeks conversing about life on the farm and, at that point, I hadn't even tasted her cheese! Finally (and unannounced), a box of cheese arrived, beautifully packed in clean straw and with a heart-warming note. Obviously, we had passed some invisible test! Our conversations remained regular over the last 12 years, despite no longer being a cheese buyer.
In the big picture, the thing that strikes as so ironic about all of this, is that these iconic and hard working souls who are such an inspiration to many others wanting to get into cheesemaking are being regulated out of business.
Don't get me wrong, I'm entirely in favor of sanitation and intelligent regulation, but there just seems to be so little hard-core advocacy or advice for small-scale cheesemakers when they get into trouble and its the hand-holding that they really need. Times are changing, but some people need help to change and Sally is an example of that.
How can we prevent this kind of thing from happening again?
Below: Sally Jackson's "Renata" (named after one of Sally's three cows), sheep's milk cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, and goat's milk cheese wrapped in vine leaves: