Every Wisconsin cheese is unique, but George Crave puts his own spin on Wisconsin innovation.
Making green cheese
George Crave doesn’t just make cheese. He makes green cheese.
“We generate enough electricity every day to power the farm, the cheese factory, and about 300 homes in our community,” George says of his family’s sustainably powered operation, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, Wisconsin. “Not only do we have award-winning cheese, it's also produced with renewable energy.”
Crave Brothers’ green operation has earned them lots of attention and accolades – but that award-winning cheese? It’s the real show-stopper.
“We wanted to make sure that our farm-fresh milk came through in our mozzarella and our sweet cream mascarpone,” says George. “It was really the perfect storm.”
George and his team turn milk from their dairy farm just steps away from the factory into cheesy masterpieces, from rich chocolate mascarpone to queso Oaxaca – a tasty tangle of fresh mozzarella ropes that looks like the world’s most delicious volleyball.
A leap of faith
“We distribute coast to coast, from Miami to Seattle, every week,” says George. Business is booming now, but at the beginning, George and his wife, Debbie, had to put it all on the line to launch their cheesemaking operation.
“I didn't want to milk cows for 20 more years,” says George, whose brothers continue to run their family’s dairy farm just across the road. “But when you start your own business, it's very difficult. It's really a leap of faith.”
That leap of faith paid off. Eighteen years later, George and Debbie’s farm-fresh cheeses are decorated with countless awards, delighting taste buds across the country with everything from crisp summer salads to creamy mascarpone pies.
George has become so well regarded in the cheese world that he’s even been inducted into the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers – a prestigious global society of dairy industry elite.
“It's really to recognize not only cheesemakers, but agriculturalists and marketers that all have a passion for what they do,” says George. “All the way from the crops to the cows to the cheese to the consumer, we were very proud to be recognized.”
Focused on the future
George isn’t one to rest on his laurels. These days, he’s thinking about how to keep their success going long after he hangs up his cheesemaker’s uniform.
“Being in rural America, rural Wisconsin – what we do here on the farm and the cheese factory cuts a pretty wide path,” says George. “So we feel very responsible to keep it going well into the future, and that's by developing future leaders.”
And, of course, when George thinks about the future, he thinks about sustainability – but maybe not in the way you’d think.
To George, it's not just about the environment. It’s about the people.
“For me, sustainable means repeatable for our employees and our community,” he says. “What we're doing today – how we farm, how we take care of the cows, and how we make the cheese – we can do next year. We can do it in five years from now and ten years from now.”
Whatever it takes to keep the magic mozzarella coming, we’re on board!