Teresa Roche of Kylemore Farm in the Slieve Aughty Mountains is ensuring the family farm thrives with her award-winning farmhouse cheese

In partnership with Agri Aware

When it comes to buying great quality food, one of the easiest way to do so sustainably is to support local. And you can’t get much more local than Irish farmhouse cheese made from the milk of cows grazing in the surrounding fields. Teresa Roche’s family has been farming their land in the Slieve Aughty mountains for over 200 years. That takes pride, passion and commitment, something Teresa has in spades.

“I am proud to be a woman in agriculture. I am passionate about empowering women in agriculture and creating jobs in rural Ireland to enhance health and wellbeing in our communities,” Teresa says, speaking as part of the Sustaining Ireland campaign in association with Agri Aware and the IFA, with the support of the Irish Farmers Journal, which is all about showing the role Irish farmers play in sustainable food production.

Teresa’s dairy herd is comprised of all pedigree Holstein Friesians and is considered a “closed herd”, meaning, no other cattle are brought in; they have all been bred and born on the farm.

That closed herd produces Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese, a unique, premium Irish farmhouse cheese produced directly on the farm, a product and process the Roche family takes great pride in: “I am proud that our cheeses start and finish all on site. So, we milk the cows, right through to cheese manufacturing,” Teresa says.

“Then through to the cutting and delivering of the product, it all  starts and finishes here. Our whole process of maturing the cheese is directly from the source.”

The unique award-winning cheese is a mountain hard type cheese, inspired from the Swiss Alps. It is fully traceable and sustainable from farm to fork, and Bord Bia – Origin Green approved.

Shared future

Teresa believes that the future of farming is ‘farm diversification’, adding value to raw materials and creating sustainability through alternative enterprise on farms. Originally producing milk for the local co-op, Kylemore diversified into cheese production to add value to the farm.

“We are proud to be producing a product that has a low carbon footprint. We are producing our highest quality raw material – natural milk from our grass-fed Pedigree Dairy herd of cows for over 60 years.

Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese is a participant in the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS), Teresa’s farm contains kilometres of hedgerows and forestry, improving the biodiversity found on her farm. They grow and harvest their own silage on site to feed the cows during the winter months (when grass growth is minimal).

In fact during the cheesemaking process, the leftover whey is recycled back into the farm food-chain. Leftover whey is distributed back onto the land to help grass and clover grow, which is then eaten by the cows. Clover is really important as it reduces the amount of chemical fertiliser needed to help grass grow, making the process even more environmentally sustainable.

They do not use plastic in their packaging process. Teresa is working towards implementing new tools and technology to increase her farms efficiency and sustainability measures.

It is Teresa’s hope to keep the farm in the family and is passionate about teaching the next generation on where their food comes from. Throughout the year they offer educational farm and cheese tours and a traditional afternoon tea at their 200 year-old period farmhouse. Tours can be booked through their online shop. For more see sustainingireland.ie.