Jacobs & Brichford: Award Winning Indiana Cheese
Jacobs & Brichford Cheese produces three farmstead artisan cheeses from the raw milk of their grass-fed cows. Three of their cheeses have received Good Food awards, which are awarded to food producers and farmers who are “leading the way towards a tasty, authentic and responsible food system.”
Matthew Brichford and Leslie Jacobs have lived and raised their three daughters on the Brichford family farm since 1981. Now Matthew manages the farm and makes their award-winning artisan cheeses.
EI: Why and how did you get involved in sustainable farming?
Matthew: Since I began farming 35 years ago, I have always tried to implement sustainable practices. We farmed with horses, did ridge tilling and have practiced conservation in our [Indiana’s] Classified Forests. We utilized rotational grazing and we slowly shifted to all grass-fed cows.
EI: Why is it important to be a family owned business? How does your family portray this? What are your family roles?
Matthew: Our farm has been in the family for close to 200 years. We believe this contributes to our business as a foundation and one that keeps us connected to the land. Our family is very involved in the farm. Our oldest daughter, Miah, manages the herd and does the milking. Maize, our middle daughter, does much of our marketing. Our youngest daughter Eliza, is in grad school, but helps out with demos when she is available.
EI: Why grass-fed?
Matthew: It is healthier for the animal, people and the land.
EI: Why cheese?
Matthew: This seemed like the best value added product for our dairy. I studied it for many years before beginning our cheese production, so I had this as a goal for many years.
EI: What cheeses do you produce that have won awards?
Matthew: In 2014, our Everton won a Good Food Award and in 2015 Ameribella took the same honor. Both Ameribella and Briana won third place in their respective categories in the United States Championship Cheese Contest. (After interviewing Matthew, they also received a Good Food award in 2016 for their Adair cheese, which is below mentioned.)
EI: What new products are you releasing this year?
Matthew: We just released our fourth cheese, Adair. It is a mold ripened, minimum age 60 days raw milk cheese, that is a silky cheese with fruity notes. It comes in a small one-and-a-half pound wheel.
EI: What other products do you produce on the farm?
Matthew: We raise whey-fed Berkshire hogs and hair sheep. We sell the Berkshire hogs to Smoking Goose for use in their products and the lambs go to the commodity market.
EI: What are your goals for the farm in the coming year?
Matthew: We want to continue to produce grass-fed, raw milk cheeses and find more markets for our cheeses. Sustaining a small business is a challenge and we are not an exception. We enjoy seeing our cheeses reach people in other states and we work to spread the word on good cheese.
EI: How are you involved in Indiana charities? How does Jacobs & Brichford give back?
Matthew: We have donated excess wheels of cheese to Gleaners, as well as supporting local fund drives and silent auctions with cheese samplers. We also donate to community endeavors for the small farm community in which we live.
EI: How do you support other Indiana businesses? Do you use other Indiana products?
Matthew: We love opportunities to do events in Indiana, where we can see others in the ‘local foods’ arena. We also work with Indianapolis’ Piazza Produce, who is a distributor for our cheese as well as providing freight for shipments in and outside of Indiana.
EI: Where can we find your products?
Matthew: Our cheese is at Goose the Market (Indianapolis), Whole Foods in Carmel, Earth Fare in Greenwood. Our cheese is served in many restaurants in Indianapolis. We are also in Kroger in Bloomington, Carmel, Fishers, Ft. Wayne and in West Lafayette at Murray’s Cheese Shop.
Jacobs & Brichford Cheese can be found at 2957 S. State Rd. 1., Connersville and on their website.