Wisconsin Cheese Originals: Sandra Acosta awarded $2,500 Beginning Wisconsin Cheesemaker Scholarship

Contact: Jeanne Carpenter, 608-358-7837, jeanne@wordartisanllc.com

Sandra Acosta Awarded $2,500 Beginning Wisconsin Cheesemaker Scholarship

MADISON, Wis. – A Wisconsin dairy goat farmer aiming to develop a farmstead creamery is the recipient of the 2014 Beginning Cheesemaker Scholarship from Wisconsin Cheese Originals.

Sandra Acosta, of Port Washington, was selected by a committee of industry leaders for the $2,500 annual award. An accomplished cheesemaker, veterinarian and instructor in native Mexico, Acosta aims to become a licensed cheesemaker in her new home country. Wisconsin is the only state in the nation to require cheesemakers to be licensed, an 18-month process that requires attendance at five university short courses, 240 hours of apprenticeship under a licensed cheesemaker, and a written exam at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.

Acosta and her husband, Barry Midtling, milk about 600 goats on a farm near Port Washington. After using the scholarship money to earn her license, Acosta has dreams of building an on-farm creamery to craft French style goat cheeses. “I am excited for the opportunity to learn and grow my knowledge in cheesemaking,” she said. “I would also like to continue to be involved in teaching goat milk production in rural areas of Mexico and other developing countries.”

This marks the fifth year Wisconsin Cheese Originals has offered the $2,500 scholarship to a beginning cheesemaker. Past recipients include:

2013: Jennifer Digman owns and runs Krayola Sky Dairy, a goat dairy in Cuba City. She successfully obtained her cheesemaker’s license in 2013 after earning the Wisconsin Cheese Originals scholarship. She currently works at both Uplands Cheese in Dodgeville, Wis., and Roelli Cheese in Shullsburg as a cheesemaker and affineur.

2012: Anna Landmark owns and runs a small-scale sustainable farm with her husband and children in Albany, Wis. In 2013, Anna successfully launched Landmark Creamery and began making seasonal sheep, cow and water buffalo cheeses, using the facilities at Cedar Grove Cheese in Plain, Wis., and Clock Shadow Creamery in Milwaukee.

2011: Rose Boero, a dairy goat breeder in Custer, Wis., successfully obtained her cheesemaker’s license after receiving the scholarship in 2011. Today, she makes a variety of goat’s milk cheeses at Willow Creek Cheese and teaches beginning cheesemaking classes in her home for amateur cheesemakers.

2010: Katie Hedrich Furhmann, a goat’s milk cheesemaker, obtained her license after receiving the first Wisconsin Cheese Originals Scholarship. At the 2011 U.S. Champion Cheese Contest, she took Best in Show for her goat’s milk cheese, Evalon, and was named U.S. Champion Cheesemaker. In 2013, she and her family built a new farmstead cheese plant on their farm near Pipe, Wis.

Wisconsin Cheese Originals is a member-based organization dedicated to growing and promoting the state’s artisan cheese community by hosting seminars, cheesemaker dinners, dairy tours and educational classes. For more information, contact Executive Director Jeanne Carpenter, 608-358-7837 or email Jeanne@wordartisanllc.com. To learn more, visit www.wisconsincheeseoriginals.com.