Castle Rock Organic Farms
farm operation outside Osseo keeps it organic
Ever wanted to watch as milk becomes that delectable Wisconsin treat, the cheese curd? You can, every Tuesday at Castle Rock Organic Farms in Osseo. The dairy plant’s storefront features a giant window – complete with step stools for the little ones – so visitors can watch the magic of curds unfold.
It’s all part of Castle Rock’s philosophy, to remove barriers between consumers and their food. “We’re open for tours because everyone wants to see where their food comes from,” said Jake Kostka, plant manager. I visited early on a Wednesday morning – sadly, not a cheese curd day, but Jake happily showed me the beginnings of what would be blue cheese. Molds waited by a giant tub of milk, while another machine was hard at work separating out cream. Jake’s day typically starts very early, and he had already been up for hours by the time I met him at 7am.
Castle Rock’s own 800-acre dairy farm, about eight miles away from the plant, supplies all the milk they use. About 150 milking cows produce 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of dairy products each week. These very happy cows have the relaxing living conditions, beautiful pastures, and high-quality feed that a smaller dairy can give them. (Take that, California.)
Castle Rock has only been open for business for five years, although the process to become certified organic began five years before that. It seems like a lot of effort, but Jake says it’s worthwhile. He explains that the flavor of milk comes from what you put into the cows, and his customers appreciate the flavor of the milk and the ability to purchase what he calls “real food,” made without antibiotics and preservatives. As a bonus, they’ve found that the process of organically enriching their soil actually produces a better crop yield than they would have conventionally.