Naked Cow Dairy and Real Community Supported Agriculture

This year is turning out to be the Year of Cheese in Hawaii. Before 2012, there was no such thing as cheese made commercially with milk from local cows in the state. Nothing, nada. Chef Gida Snyder and the ladies of Naked Cow Dairy, Oahu’s only dairy, changed that. What started out as a friendly experiment has turned into a full-blown, artisan cheese operation that is already exceeding everyone’s expectations. Bleu Cheese with Ala’e Salt Rub? A young brie style, creamy and rich with a fat content high in omegas from the pristine pastures these local cows are raised on? A hard parm style that shaves like the best of them? It has become The Little Dairy That Could. But then Waianae has a long history of beating the odds and bringing forth into the universe the extraordinary.

Naked Cow Dairy was started by Monique van der Stroom, one of a handful of the nation’s herdswomen. She ran several milking dairies on the island, saw all of them close up, had the gumption to still strike it out on her own. What Monique learned from those years was that they could not compete with liquid milk imports – not at the $5 a gallon price the big box stores sold theirs for (milk that was months old and triple pasteurized.) She knew that any dairy hoping to survive would have to develop a line of value added products – butter and cheese. With the help her a team of women, including her recently relocated sister Sabrina St. Martin (a refugee from Louisiana and Katrina), Monique developed a line of gourmet butter that keeps expanding in tantalizing ways: Toasted Coconut, Macadamia Nut Honey, Hawaiian Salt, Waianae Pesto, Maui Lavender, Italian Summer Truffle.

Enter Gida Snyder, a graduate fresh from KCC’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific with a hardcore passion for helping farmers. It all started with an experiment in mozzarella and the rest is history. Actually it was a whole new beginning. The start of a new paradigm for chef and community supported agriculture here in Hawaii. Because what Gida started was to both go in a create a whole new product line for this farm, as well as an IndieGoGo campaign that successfully crowd-funded $18,000 (surpassing the original $15,000 goal) to cover the costs of the final pieces of equipment needed by Naked Cow to finally begin producing cheese on a commercial level (the funds purchased a heating element for a 200 gallon vat).

We all knew that this campaign was a game changer. Seeing the community come together and make change happen before our eyes, was really something, and something brand new. And yes, this is just the beginning.

Here’s the video launching the Indiegogo campaign:

Here’s the miraculous Pop Up Cheese Shoppe at R & D in Kakaako that helped to give everyone a taste of what they were supporting:

Yes, this is only the beginning. Come along for the ride as we follow Gida, Monique and Sabrina on their cheese making journey. Check back here for more cheese please!

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