New England

‘That's a Huge Milestone': Vt. Co-op Famous for Its Cheese Celebrates 100 Years

One of New England's most recognizable food brands is marking a milestone birthday in 2019, and you can join in the celebration this weekend.

The Cabot Creamery Cooperative — the famous maker of cheddar cheese, butter, and other dairy products — is now 100.

"I love Cabot cheese," said Sue Yazdzik of Milford, Connecticut, who was sampling cheese at the Cabot visitor center Wednesday in the central Vermont town that shares its name.

In 1919, the Cabot Creamery Cooperative started producing butter, which is still one of its most popular items. The award-winning cheese came in 1930.

Today, the plant in Cabot is one of four the co-op has. That location alone processes 1.2 million pounds of milk a day, said Sarah Pastula, the manager of Cabot's visitor center.

"They'll get out here and they'll say, 'Wow, you're in the middle of nowhere!'" Pastula said, recounting comments from visitors about Cabot's location. "And we'll tell them, 'No, we're in the middle of farming country.'"

Fairmont Farm in East Montpelier is one of 800 farms in each of the New England states, plus New York, that provide milk to Cabot.

Those farmers all have a voice in the way the co-op is run, with profits from the brand flowing back to them. That helps provide some stability in the notoriously unstable and often difficult world of dairy farming, member-owners have said.

"What I really love the most is going to the grocery store and seeing our brand there and seeing neighbors and other members of the community reaching for Cabot," said farmer Clara Ayer of Fairmont Farm, which sends its milk to the Cabot Creamery Co-op. "Because that’s directly supporting us."

Because the Cabot label can be found nationally, Vermont's Republican governor even calls it something of a goodwill ambassador for the state, helping boost its reputation for high-quality products.

"When you talk about Vermont, Cabot is always mentioned," Gov. Phil Scott noted, adding that Ben & Jerry's, Darn Tough socks and maple syrup are other products commonly associated with his state. "That's a huge milestone for them. I hope they have another hundred years."

Loyal customers like Sue Yazdzik share the governor's sentiment.

"I'll continue support it for another 100 years, as long as I'm here," Yazdzik told necn, laughing.

At least one farm in each of the states where the Cabot Creamery Co-op's member owners are located will take part in a 100th-anniversary celebration Sunday, Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Open Farm Sunday event will feature tours, family activities, and, of course, cheese samples. More information on the celebrations, including specifics on participating locations, is available on this website.

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