Award-winning Kylemore farmhouse cheese
Kylemore farmhouse cheese won the Sustainable Rural Innovation Award 2022 at the RDS Agriculture & Forestry Sustainability Awards recently. Anne Kinsella, Teagasc Rural Economy Development Programme, Athenry reports from her visit with Teresa Roche at her cheese-making business
Kylemore House farm
The Roche family has farmed in the historic and rich landscape of Abbey, southeast Galway, for almost 200 years, converting the Kylemore House farm into a dairy enterprise in the 1960s. Bertie and Julie Roche, along with their son Brian, run a herd of 97 Holstein-Friesian crosses supplying Arrabawn Co-op. Daughter Teresa Roche (pictured below) is behind the creation of Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese. Although a relative newcomer to cheese-making, she is already causing a stir with her unique offerings of Swiss-inspired cheese, which is the only Irish-made Swiss cheese available in Ireland.
Support and training
Teresa won a National Enterprise Award 2018, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Galway Best New Business. “I have worked as a nurse in Australia, New Zealand and the United States,” says Teresa. “But I always had the notion of returning to develop a business on the home farm. While in New Zealand, I spent some time working with the Maori farming community in the Waikato region. While there I got a great insight into how to develop a business in food production on a farm.” A two-week holiday home in 2015 turned into two years of preparation, studying cheese production in Switzerland and completing various mentoring and business courses run by Galway Local Enterprise Office and Musgrave’s Food Academy Programme. “Once I decided to develop a cheese I got great help and support from our neighbour, and cheesemaker, Marion Roeleveld.” Marion has won awards for her Killeen cheese brand. Indeed, over the past 16 years, the Roche farm has been supplying Marion with milk for her cheese production.
“I think the low-carbon footprint of our production is a great selling point,” says Teresa. “We produce the cheese in a dedicated building located just beside the milking parlour. And we only make cheese with milk from grazed grass.’’ Over 50 litres of milk are required to produce each 5kg wheel of Teresa’s Swiss-type cheese. Appenzeller cheese is the main product but Teresa also produces a Gruyère Beaufort style of cheese. Both are long maturing, from a minimum of three months up to 18 months. “My current stock is maturing now at six months, producing a nutty, creamy, buttery flavour cheese. We are producing a high-quality milk product which is fully traceable and Bord Bia Origin Green-approved.
“Developing a new product, and new skills, requires an awful lot of training and research into production and marketing,” says Teresa. “Getting hold of funding for a new initiative can be difficult and time-consuming too.” Marketers always say you should find your market niches before producing and Teresa has done just that: “We’ve had excellent interest from people at home and abroad who have tasted the cheese,” concludes Teresa. “You’ll meet with some scepticism when you start something from scratch, but if you keep at it and produce a quality product you’ll get there. Tenacity is probably what you need more than anything else.”
For more see Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese
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