Over the next few months we will be profiling local vendors from one of the many farmers’ markets in the area. This month, we introduce you to Liza and David Porter of Homestead Artisans. Their love of cheese has developed into a business of making and selling their own varieties that can be found at the Saratoga, Clifton Park and Glens Falls Farmers’ Markets.
Liza & David Porter
177 County Route 43, Fort Edward
How did you come to develop a love of cheese so deep that you wanted to start a business making and selling it?
We have always appreciated the art of fine cheeses. I went to a conference 10 years ago and heard a very devoted cheesemaker speak about his craft. I thought, “We could do that!” And we have! It has just continued to grow from our first cheese room which was 7×14, the smallest one in the state, located in our barn in Wilton. Then we decided we should have our own animals, so we purchased our Longview Farm in 2005 and moved up to Argyle to take up sustainable farming.
What types do you make?
We make many different kinds of cheese. It is magic, how we can start with the same milk, and by making a few different decisions along the way, we can come out with a totally different kind of cheese. We make seven kinds of aged cheese from both goats’ and cows’ milk, including a Gruyère-style and Cheddar-style, a goat milk parmesan, a goat milk Gouda, a blue cheese, a bloomy-rind cheese like Camembert but made from goat milk, and an aged goat milk feta. Then we also make fresh goat cheese, fresh feta, and quark which is made from cow’s milk. During the holidays we make a cows’ milk Camembert. Sometimes we make a fresh goat milk ricotta. Different cheeses are made at different seasons. All of them are delicious.
How long have you been in business?
We have been making cheese since 2004, and have been farming since 2005.
What is a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day! But here goes – We get up about 5am and milk and do the chores for the other animals (in addition to the goats, we also have pigs, laying hens, broiler chickens, ducks and geese). Then we make cheese, which takes all morning. Some of the little kids (young goats) need to be fed and their mothers need care. Then we do the midday chores – picking up eggs, feeding the kids again, at this time of year we are making hay, and so on. Something new every day. Then in the late afternoon we milk again, and care for all the animals. In the late evening, near sunset, we put everyone away in their various barns again. And so it goes. Soon the fireflies will be out – we will have to stay up late to see them – what a show! We use no pesticides or herbicides or artificial fertilizers, so the fireflies are spectacular, like they used to be.
How long have you been serving the markets in the Capital Region?
Liza started out selling beautiful pressed flower crafts at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market in 2000. We started bringing cheese in 2004, and have continued to expand our line, as well as now selling meat: chevon (young goat), chicken and pork. We go to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market both in summer and winter and to the Clifton Park Market at St. George’s Church in the summer. We started at the Glens Falls Farmers’ Market in 2005, and have continued there in both summer and winter.
What do you enjoy most about selling at the various farmers’ markets?
Interacting with the customers is the most wonderful part; they are just the most interesting people. They come out in all weathers and they are truly dedicated to supporting the local farmers and eating the best, freshest and most delicious foods.
What is your most popular selling item?
Our fresh pastured chickens are our best-selling meat. The most popular cheese is called High Rock, a Gruyère-style cheese made from whole raw cows’ milk. But all our cheeses sell well.
Can someone buy products at your farm?
Yes, we sell off the farm. We don’t have a store because it would take too much time away from other chores, but we are available to sell our products any time. We do ask people to call before they come, so that we won’t be off in the north forty when they arrive. We also offer farm tours by appointment and at the time of the Cheese Tour.
If there is anything else you would like our readers to know?
We belong to the Washington County Cheese Tour – every September for the last six years six cheese farmers in Washington County have opened their farms for guests to come visit and see the sights. There are events, music, picnicking and lots of cheese to sample and buy. This year’s Cheese Tour is September 7-8. Last year we had nearly 3,000 people, and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time.