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Collaborative research hopes to revive the lost art of cheese making


A unique new research project launched by St. Lawrence College, along with Loyalist and Algonquin colleges, and La Cité collegiale plus the Ontario Cheese Society, will help to revive a once booming local industry in Artisanal cheese.

The project will assess market demand for eastern Ontario artisanal cheese, producers' learning needs, and the ability of the colleges and their partners to meet these needs. Artisanal cheese is 'small batch' production of 1000kg or less, often using milk from goats and sheep, with specialized recipes to achieve a wide variation of flavours, textures, aromas, and appearances.

Creation of the Artisanal Cheese Market will potentially allow small, local producers to return and thrive again, serving a growing variety of culinary niches, an ethnically diversifying population, rising interest in localized food chains, and improved technologies.

"This study follows a preliminary environmental scan performed here by chef professor, Tibrata Gillies," said Cam McEachern, director, Research & Planning at St. Lawrence College. "This new phase with external funding and partners represents an important next step in building applied research activity, not only at St. Lawrence but at our partner colleges as well." Dr Michel Caron, Applied Research Advisor at La Cité collegiale agrees, "Our students are benefiting immensely from strategically selected applied research projects matching regional industry needs to colleges’ programming strengths, and here we see culinary, business and biotechnology assisting one another."

"Ontario's colleges are maintaining their global leadership in technical education by embracing applied research to further strengthen the college learning experience, and graduates' skills," Chris Whitaker, president and CEO of St. Lawrence College said. "St. Lawrence College has recently run several very successful projects concerned with software development, renewable energy, and health services and we expect to see continued growth in several college programming areas over the next few years."

Funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs' OMIF program will support an extensive, collaborative market study to guide the research and development of the network. Total project cost is estimated at $50,000. The province will directly provide $20,000 to the project to which the colleges are contributing $30,000 cash and in-kind.