Wisconsin Dairy Activist Andy Hatch Wins 2017 Slow Cheese Award

Slow Food's cheese initiative recognized dairy farmer Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese with the 2017 Slow Cheese Award for his dedication to producing raw cheese. The Wisconsin farmer not only produces a high-quality product but does so while limiting his impact on the environment.

The international nonprofit dedicated to sustainable food systems and promoting local produce celebrates 20 years of its cheese initiative this year, and this is the fifth year of the Slow Cheese Awards.

Hatch runs Uplands Cheese's creamery in southwestern Wisconsin, near the capital, Madison, with his wife, Caitlin, and another couple, Scott and Liana Mericka, run the barn. The farm has been a dairy for nearly a hundred years, and the farmers are dedicated to letting the cows graze outdoors for as long as possible. The farm uses a rotational grazing system and grows a variety of "grasses, legumes, and herbs that give [them] such high-quality milk," according to the farm's website.

Rather than sell the milk to local cheese producers, Scott and Andy sought out ways to produce their own cheeses, eventually settling on hard Alpine varieties using their raw milk. Andy worked closely with local cheesemakers and the nearby Center for Dairy Research to perfect his production and aging techniques.

After a decade running the farm, Hatch's dedication to sustainable farming has been recognized internationally.