Sheep are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of dairy farming, but to Ohio’s first ODA licensed sheep dairy farmers Ben and Lisa Sippel, producing cheese from sheep milk makes sense.
The Sippels began their Mount Gilead based Kogoborrego Cheese Company in 2011, supplying cheese maker Ben Baldwin with milk from the family’s sheep herd.
Kogoborrego produces sheep milk cheeses aptly named Morrow, Owl Creek Tomme, Spotted Owl, as well as a few cow milk cheeses that bear other Morrow based names like Gilead, Whetstone and Headwaters Tomme.
In addition to their dairy operation, the couple grows organic vegetables on their family owned and operated Sippel Family Farm.
“I love the science behind farming, and we just didn’t agree with some of the other methods out there” said Ben of the Sippels decision to grow organically.
Previously, the Mount Gilead farmers worked their own community supported agriculture program (CSA) providing area customers with varieties of produce each week beginning in June.
To further reach consumers interested in organic crops, the Sippels, along with other Central Ohio organic farmers, have joined forces to form the Great River Organics (GRO) CSA program.
The newly envisioned Great River Organics program works similarly to other CSAs, giving its customers a chance to buy 15-weeks, 30-weeks or a seasonal share of produce.
The only difference is each share contains organically grown and certified vegetables from a number of Central Ohio area farms.
“Growing and selling produce is a feast or famine kind of job. One year the weather will be great and the next you could get a hail storm that destroys all of your produce” Ben explained. “By becoming a CSA member, you share in the risk and the bounty of each season to help support ecologically responsible farmers.”
“By joining GRO, we were able to decide which produce we wanted focus on, which has allowed us to grow them in much larger quantities” said Lisa.
Along with producing locally grown organic vegetables, The Sippel Family Farm is working to restore one of HPM’s apple presses, so they can begin selling fresh cider this fall with apples from their orchard.
For those interested in buying crops from Mount Gilead based farm without purchasing a CSA, look for the Sippels at area farmer’s markets throughout the summer.