Based on Martha’s Vineyard, The Grey Barn and Farm has been running a successful small farm and dairy operation since 2009, headed by owners Molly and Eric Glasgow. Equipped with their own creamery and caves system, they produce three certified-organic original cheeses: Prufrock, Eidolon, and Bluebird–two of which are carried by us at Murray’s! We got the inside scoop from owner Molly Glasgow on what it’s like to be an island-based farm.
Environmental sustainability seems to be an integral part of your operation—along with that, what would you say are the core values of The Grey Barn & Farm?
Yes, for us, environmental sustainability is key, and it stems from our most important core value: respect. Respect the people you work with and they will care for your farm; respect the land and it will feed you; respect your animals and they will share their bounty with you. From the soil up, respect informs and guides every aspect of what we do. Every day we work to foster wonder and beauty through our respect for the environment and our animals.
How does operating on an island affect business, if at all?
Delivering cheese to vendors, bringing supplies to the farm and hauling animals on and off the island does have its quirks. When other farmers are able to purchase a part or a tool at their local supply house, we have to wait to see if the ferry will run; and even if does we have to wait in the stand-by line hoping to get on or off. Farming and making cheese on an island does present obstacles but, in honesty, we wouldn’t do it anywhere else.
What’s the basic setup of your caves operation?
Our cheeses start their life by moving from the creamery into our brining room. In this room, we start to see the first bits of mold growing on our cheese. We move the cheese across the farm from our creamery to the cellars in our main barn.
The cellars consist of two caves; we keep our pasteurized cheeses in a warmer and more humid environment, and the cooler cave keeps the raw milk cheeses. Our pasteurized cheeses, Prufrock and Eidolon, develop their rind over a one to two week period, after which they are wrapped and placed into cold storage, where they continue to age before we ship them out for sale. Our raw milk cheeses, Bluebird, Bluebird Reserve, Bon Anniversaire and RipRap, live in the cellars for up to 12 months, watched meticulously by our cheesemakers.
What was the inspiration for naming your cheeses after literary references?
When we started the farm, we were wary to name our cheese after a place on the island, in the way another cheesemakers might name their cheese after their surroundings: a river, a hill, a flower, a town. We didn’t want our cheese to come across as a novelty product. When we searched for naming inspiration, we were literally pulling books off the shelves, and just began reading through some of our favorite poems. We realized that each person experiences their food differently, just like how each of us reads a poem differently. Then there it was – Prufrock, the narrator of T. S. Eliot’s most famous poem – a name that seemed funky enough to suit our cheese. Once we’d settled on that name, we decided we’d stick with the poetry references.
Are you planning to produce any new cheeses in the future?
Funny you should ask. 2019 is our tenth anniversary and we are releasing a raw milk washed-rind named Bon Anniversaire – not a poem, I know. We’ve already begun production, but the cheese will age at least six months before they leave our cellars in July. This is such a wonderful cheese and to us Bon Anniversaire is a nice turn of phrase so we broke our own mold (pun intended) and went with a different theme for the name.
Want to know more about this island-based organic operation? Head over to their website or take a trip out to Martha’s Vineyard to see where the magic happens!