Cheese maker, dairy farmers wife, educator, mentor… It’s all about living the dream for Debra Allard.
Her fifteen-year journey with cheese may have had its ups and downs but, visiting her on their family dairy farm, there’s serendipity in motion, a reconnection with family traditions and their land while providing a legacy for her family’s future.
The 200-acre farm has been in the Allard family since Jim’s great grandfather purchased the property from the government in 1895 for £1 an acre on the condition that it was cleared for pasture. After operating for generations, the farm operated until 1986, when illness forced Jim’s father out of dairying. In 2016, Deb and her husband Jim restarted the farm for the purpose of providing single source high quality milk to make Deb’s award-winning cheese.
The couple have installed a custom-made 10-a-side dairy, complete with cheese making facilities and a cheese ageing room for Deb’s business, Cheeses Loves You, on their Burringbar property.
They produce 7,000 litres of milk weekly, 1200 litres used to make cheese, the rest purchased by local dairy co-operative Norco.
While many dairy farmers choose Friesian cows for the high volume of milk they produce, Deb and Jim have restocked their family dairy farm with 95 Jersey cows, getting high quality milk more suited to cheesemaking, a bonus from Norco for their higher fat and protein count as well as their low cell count (great hygiene).
By-products of her cheesemaking, such as whey (and some of Deb’s kefir) are fed to the farm’s calves as well as to a friend’s pig farm.
A cheese maker for about fifteen years, Deb is well known for her cheese-making classes in the Northern Rivers area. She has travelled widely to perfect her craft, honing her skills learning from expert cheesemakers in the UK, France and Italy. Highly motivated and so enthusiastic about cheese, it’s hard to believe that she is actually allergic to dairy, so she eats very little cheese herself.
Now, with the farm in full swing, Deb makes cheese fulltime, producing about 25 different highly-prized products including ricotta, Mr Squeaky (haloumi), fetish (feta), brie, camembert and blue, as well as other dairy products such as kefir, buttermilk, cultured butter and yoghurt.
Deb’s cheeses are small batch and additive free, quite different from mass-produced cheese sold at the supermarket, which usually contain some form of preservatives or additives to extend their shelf life.
Already she’s winning awards, such as four silver and a bronze at recent awards, winning medals at the Royal Queensland Cheese and Dairy Competition and as a State Winner in the Delicious Produce Awards.
“It’s the perfect end and a new beginning,” says Deb, “the farm is secure for the future and the family.”
You can meet Deb and buy her Cheeses Loves You cheese at the Byron Farmers Market (Thursdays), Mullumbimby Farmers Market (Fridays), Kingscliff TAFE Market (Saturdays), at Bottle & Hoop Brunswick Heads, Bay Grocer and Uki Supermarket.
Cheeses Loves You is located in Upper Burringbar, NSW Ph: 0404 812 011
Cheeses Loves You cheese is featured on the menus of Potager, Harvest, Pipit, Rae’s, Fleet, Inky Squid, Farm & Co. Table Under a Tree, and Husk Distillery.