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Stories from the valley

Say Cheese

Contributed by Steve Beckley

Cheese is one of my favorite foods and I decided to head north and visit a couple of small artisan cheese producers is Glenn County.

My first stop was Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Company located east of Orland. I had to the opportunity to spend some time with Tim Pedrozo, a 3rd generation dairyman that came north from Merced. It is true family venture as he is joined in the farm and cheese company by his wife Jill, a teacher in Arbuckle, son Tom and their daughter Laura, a Chico State Student. They have 25 cows that produce the milk for the farmstead cheeses. The cheeses are aged for various periods of time in the aging room.

I was able to tour the cheese making operation with Tim and Tom, sample some great cheese and meet the cows. The cows are fed grass and local hay. The cheeses are available at many local grocery stores, farmers markets and restaurants and online from their website.

Following my visit with Tim and Tom I stopped at the Farwood Bar and Grill in Orland for lunch. The lunch special that day was a Cuban Sandwich made with Pedrozo Farms Northern Gold Cheese. It was excellent!

Orland Farmstead Creamery was my second stop of day. It is located just north of town. Paul Schmidt, a third generation dairyman started the dairy in 1977 and in 2010 he began making Fromage Blanc and selling it to local restaurants and natural food stores in Chico. Paul and Valerie Miller, head cheese maker, formed a partnership in 2012 and now have a product line that includes many fresh cheeses including Fromage Blanc, Feta, Queso Fresco and Mozzarella.

Paul gave me a tour of the operation and dairy. The milk for the cheese is provided by 25 – 30 grass fed cows that graze on 40 acres of pasture. They also have hogs at the farm that eat the whey that remains after making the cheese.

Their cheeses are also available from their website, local grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers market.

Both Pedrozo Dairy and Orland Farmstead are committed to sustainable agriculture and responsible stewardship. Food safety is foremost for both dairies. They take time to educate visitors about the agriculture and the process involved in making their cheeses.

I enjoyed meeting people that are producing great agriculture products from the Sacramento Valley. Having grown up on a small livestock farm I know their days are long, days off are few, but thanks to them wonderful cheeses are available. I hope you will consider some local cheese for holiday entertaining.