Creamery Operations Manager
Farming has struggled for many years to attract a younger generation of workers. Small farm dairy operations, in particular, are faced with a shrinking field of people interested in such labor-intensive, rhythmic work. But for millennial Jeremy Shapiro, dairy is a beautiful business to be a part of.
“Dairy is such an important industry,” Jeremy, Hawthorne Valley Farm’s Creamery Operations Manager, says. “I appreciate working in a community of farmers who are the friendliest people despite all the challenges they face in their work. It’s one of those places where you can really see the food production process all the way from field to consumer.”
Jeremy is a Ghent native who returned to the area after receiving a degree in Ecological Agriculture at the University of Vermont. He worked for Roxbury Farm for a season before being introduced to cheese making through a job at the Pampered Cow. He then joined Hawthorne Valley’s creamery in winter of 2014.
What attracted Jeremy to creamery work was the balance between science and artistry that’s involved in the time-honored tradition of cheese making.
“You really have to use your mind to develop the right product to exemplify the properties of the milk you have based on the cows’ diet,” he said. “It such a blend of science and art that it’s amazing that every culture has figured out a way to turn milk into a value-added product.”
As Operations Manager, Jeremy has a role in all aspects of creamery life, from production and filling orders to handling food safety and administrative paperwork. Jeremy also has the opportunity to share his knowledge with children who visit the Farm as part of Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School or Hawthorne Valley’s Visiting Schools Program and Summer Camps. Because he’s worked to help Hawthorne Valley Farm’s team with milking, Jeremy can give students an inside perspective on the whole cycle of cheese and yogurt making, from cow to consumer.
“I really appreciate being able to work with the kids and teach them about the process of cheese making,” Jeremy said. “Showing them how it happens is one of the better parts of my job.”
Jeremy looks forward to continuing to help the creamery meet the demands of consumers to have sustainable dairy products and help educate the public on the true costs of such food. He is also excited to continue the artisanal work of developing products that showcase the milk quality and provide consumers with a diverse selection. The creamery currently offers a certified Biodynamic® line with raw milk, Alpine cheese, and plain yogurt. The remaining products are all certified organic.
On the broader scale, Jeremy is enthusiastic about participating in the transformation of agriculture in the United States, right in the region he calls home.
“My professors in Vermont had great things to say about agriculture in the Hudson Valley and its role in the wider sector,” he said. “Things are starting to shift for the better, and it’s great to be a part of that where I grew up.”