CheesemakerShane Johns, Production Manager
Ashgrove Cheese Company is a Tasmanian family owned and operated business. Located at Elizabeth Town, in the heart of the dairying and cropping region in Northern Tasmania, we specialise in high quality premium Tasmanian cow’s milk. We bottle fresh farm milk & cream for the Tasmanian market, craft award-winning cheeses and create batch churned premium Tasmanian farmhouse butter.
How did you get started in the industry?
In 1983, brothers Michael Bennett and John Bennett AM formed the Ashgrove Farms partnership. In the late 1980's a decision was made to further develop the dairy operations. The goal in establishing the factory was to gain independence from the low commodity prices that dominated Tasmanian milk supply and to produce premium quality cheese by on-farm value-adding, using farm milk. In 1993 the Ashgrove Cheese factory was built and the first vat of cheese was produced on 29 November.
Tell us a bit about your cheeses.
Our best known cheese is traditional cloth aged cheddar. A truly great cloth aged cheese will impart a unique terra firma–province, to its flavour, texture and aroma. The Ashgrove Cloth Cheddar is hand crafted by our cheese maker with milk from the unique pasture-fed Ashgrove Farms herds. These herds are 50% Jersey, 15% Brown Swiss and Friesian-Holstein which results in a unique milk that is rich, creamy and sweet. Along with the skills of our cheese maker and traditional aging process, we can create a distinctive cheese from grass to cow to you with provenance.
What is your favourite part about being a cheese maker?
One of the best things about being a cheese maker is being able to take premium raw fresh milk straight from the Ashgrove farms and within hours have it transformed into a potential award winning cheese ready for maturation.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
One of the major challenges is making cheese today to meet customer demand 12-24 months in the future. It takes considerable planning, forecasting and a little bit of good luck to ensure there is always enough cheese to supply our customers.
What opportunities do you see for the future of the Australian specialty/artisan cheese industry?
The opportunity of creating and managing the market demand for diverse and unique tasting dairy products is exciting. The future looks bright.
What does being part of ASCA mean to you?
ASCA creates a valuable link and community network between people and businesses that are passionate about Australian-made specialty cheese and dairy. ASCA provides a vital platform for industry communication, education and sustainability.