Well-known farmhouse cheesemakers will be opening their doors and gates to the Irish public as part of the Bord Bia Discover Farmhouse Cheese programme.

The farm visits will kick off at Coolattin Cheddar, Tullow on 26 September, with another planned for 10 October. Carlow Cheese, Bagnelstown will also be welcoming visitors on the 6th and 13th of October. 

The Coolattin Cheddar farm supports a spring calving herd of 100 Jersey-Holstein Cross cows and followers, which are fed mainly on grazed grass. As well as its delicious raw-milk cheddar which is made and matured for one year in converted granite cow byres, Coolattin is located beside the ‘Ring of the Rath’, a pre-historic hill fort, with panoramic views of south Leinster.

Carlow Cheese, which is located in Fenagh, Bagnelstown, farms both dairy sheep and goats. Visitors will have the opportunity to view the milking and cheese making facilities as well as taste its fresh milk and cheese.

People are invited to come visit Coolattin and Carlow cheese farms and experience first-hand, the story of farmhouse cheese –  the milk and dairy herds, the small batches and commitment to taste, the quality and dedication to making some of the finest artisan products.

The Discover Farmhouse Cheese programme, a new EU co-funded campaign organised by Bord Bia, is a celebration of farmhouse cheese in Ireland.  Bord Bia is encouraging the public to discover the unique character of the individual cheeses and how products are produced on the farm, the transparency of the supply chain, and the story of the makers behind the products.

Farmhouse cheeses are made in a huge variety of styles, from the freshest cheese to the rustic and mature hard cheese that has been carefully minded for months as it edges towards perfect maturity.

In Ireland, all farmhouse cheeses are unique to each producer. This differs greatly to cheeses available on the Continent where they are made by many farms and dairies under strict guidelines to ensure consistent standards.

Figures released earlier this year by Bord Bia showed that retail sales in Ireland have increased by 43 per cent since 2011, to reach €4m per annum. The total Irish farmhouse cheese sector is valued at more than €12m per year at farm gate level, with exports valued at approximately €4.5m. The rise in the value of farmhouse cheese sales is largely due to increased market penetration but also an increase in frequency of purchase. There are currently some 50 farmhouse cheesemakers in Ireland producing more than 150 types of cheese.

Speaking on the new Discover Farmhouse Cheese campaign, Eimear O’Donnell, Consumer Dairy Sector Manager, Bord Bia said:  “We are very lucky in Ireland that our farmhouse cheeses come from individual farms and that there are lots of producers. This means that consumers have many different types of cheese, each with its own distinct flavour, which they can choose from. We would encourage people to go out and sample as many as they can, so they can find new ones to love – and what better way to do that,  than to meet the producers and to try the product first hand!”

This visit is the first of many across the country. For more information on locations and events, please visit www.DiscoverFarmhouseCheese.ie.