New Mexico Farmer Nights – Meet Local Farmer 8/24 & 8/25

As part of its commitment to sourcing farm fresh food, Sweet Tomatoes in Albuquerque will host two informative farmer events beginning tomorrow evening. Fourth generation cheese maker Chuck Krause and third generation dairy farmer Art Schaap will be on hand to greet guests and share secrets about farming in the region and the techniques they use to harvest some of the best New Mexico-grown products on the market.

Sweet Tomatoes restaurants in Albuquerque and in other states utilize Chuck’s Creamy Ithaki Feta in prepared salads and on the salad bar, while Art’s dairy farms supply most of the milk used in the cheese. The special feta cheese was perfected over many years and Chuck refers to his unique recipe as a closely guarded “state secret.”

Wed. August 24, 6-8 p.m.

Sweet Tomatoes-Albuquerque NE 4901 San Mateo Blvd. 87109

Thurs. August 25, 6-8 p.m.

Sweet Tomatoes-Albuquerque NW 10126 Coors Blvd. 87114

First 100 Club Veg members receive a free package of fresh, local Feta Cheese from Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory. If you haven’t signed up for the Club Veg e-mail, click here to join.

About Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory:

Owner and operator Chuck Krause grew up in Wisconsin making cheese with his father and grandfather in the small community of Morgan. From 1938 to 1988, his family, led originally by Chuck’s great grandfather, made Cracker Barrel Cheese for Kraft Foods, one of the nation’s largest cheese makers. After a sale of the family business and a stint running a mozzarella producer in California, Chuck bought an old Coca Cola plant in Tucumcari, opening his operation in 1995. More than two decades later, Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory operates 7 days a week and continues to expand.

“Cheese making is my passion and I’m not going to be satisfied until we get our expansion done and working,” Chuck says. “I have a young crew and they all have kids and I want this business to be a sustaining operation for our community. I look forward to driving by when I am 80 and 90 and seeing the place still running and contributing.”

About ‘Back Nine’ Dairy:

Back Nine’s history goes back more than half a century, when Art Schaap’s grandfather moved to Artesia, CA, from his native Holland shortly after the end of World War II. Art’s father, Andy, moved the family to New Mexico in the late ‘70s when housing development squeezed most farms out of the region. Seeking the highest quality butterfat and protein-rich fresh milk, Back Nine utilizes Brown Swiss, Jerseys, and Holstein cows. Each cow is monitored by a “computer-run feed program” that ensures cows receive the right amount of feed to produce the highest quality milk. Cows are milked three times a day, starting early in the morning and about eight hours apart.

About 50,000 pounds of milk produced from the Back Nine dairy is shipped daily to Tucumcari Cheese Factory, located about 70 miles from the farm. Fresh milk is usually being made into feta cheese on the evening of milking or early the next day. “We love dairy farming and hope our kids continue to grow and evolve the business in smart and innovative ways,” Art says.

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