WATERLOO, Wis. – The Crave Brothers, who hosted nearly 100,000 visitors to their dairy farm and farmstead cheese plant as host to the annual Wisconsin Farm Technology Show last July, continued their memorable year by hosting two groups of state and national VIPs.
On October 9, they welcomed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Nancy Sutley, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and a top advisor to President Obama on environmental issues, and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. That event was preceded by a tour group from the Society of Environmental Journalists, a national organization. At the SEJ annual conference, held last week in Madison, Secretary Vilsack was a featured speaker, and several conference sessions and tours focused on food and agriculture.
Both tours provided a first-hand look at how the family-owned Crave farm is a leader in working green. An important point that the four Crave brothers share with visitors is that respect for the environment has always been a cornerstone of their business. “We were ecologically conscious before it was fashionable,” said George Crave. “It’s what we believe in, and it’s also a sustainable business model.”
The Craves grow feed for their dairy cows, and ensure premium returns from their milk by using it to make cheese in their farmstead cheese plant, first built in 2002 and expanded to 20,000 square feet in 2008. The brothers, known as agri-business innovators, constantly evaluate new technology that enables them to continue to preserve natural resources and improve efficiency. For example, manure from their 1000 cows is processed in an anaerobic digester that produces methane to generate electricity; this green energy powers the farm and cheese plant, and produces excess energy to power 300 homes.
“Our family has always worked in harmony with the land to produce quality crops and pure milk,” said George Crave. “Our mission is to build our business for future generations of our families, and we have always been committed to doing that in a way that respects the land.”
Brothers Charles, George, Thomas and Mark Crave and their families operate a showplace dairy farm in Dodge County, Wisconsin. Seeking to add value to the milk produced by their 1000 productive Holsteins, the Craves decided to make their own cheese, with the farm’s fresh, pure milk pumped directly into the cheese plant. Since 2002, the Craves have produced a top-quality selection of artisan cheeses, including Oaxaca, Fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Farmer’s Rope String Cheese, and European-style Les Frères and its little brother, Petit Frère. www.cravecheese.com