Checking Out A Green Cheese Factory: Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
all photos Emma Alter
While testing a Ford Hybrid I packed up the family for a trip to bucolic Prince Edward County to check out Fifth Town Artisan Cheese and its LEED Platinum certified factory designed by Francis Lapointe. But not only was the building as green as it gets, so is the cheese.
They have their own trailer to pick up local milk, and pasteurize it on site.
The building is constructed out of Durisol blocks, made from wood chips and cement. They are filled with slag concrete and achieve an R-Value of 24. The interior of the production area is completely lined with epoxy so that it can be easily cleaned.
we learn how to make cheese.
The cheese is aged in caves built below ground out of concrete with radiant tubing for heating and cooling from a geoexchange heat pump.
Such systems can be complex; this one has "100 zone based sensors and automatic controls to micro-manage heating, cooling and electricity requirements for the building and the cheese making process." They can also be inappropriate at times; when we were there, cold water was being pumped through the cave ceilings, causing significant condensation.
They get their electric power from wind, a solar array and Bullfrog [green local] Power. Irrigation water is supplied from a 10,000 liter rain cistern.
Even the support for the counter is made from Durisol with a concrete top.
94% of the liquid in milk ends up as whey, lactose and waste water; only 10-15% actually is turned into cheese. Fifth Town sends its waste water through a filtering system made of ponds that are constructed as a wetland, creating a new butterfly and bird habitat.
Plan of Fifth Town Cheese
The Fifth Town Artisan Cheese factory is open to the public, with a good self-guided tour. You won't get to dress up in funny hats and get inside the production area, (my son sells cheese so I used his influence) but there are viewing windows into everything. More information at Fifth Town Artisan CheeseMore Cheesy Stories on TreeHugger:Sustainable Cheese by Meadow Creek Dairy : Cowgirl Creamery Organic Cheeses Vermont Shepherd Cheese : Tis the Season!