Alise Sjostrom has dreamed of owning a creamery since high school. Today she, her husband Lucas, and parents Jerry and Linda Jennisen (pictured above, right) are making that dream a reality.
Alise Sjostrom visited a creamery for the first time as a high school sophomore; she came home and said, “Dad, this is what I am going to do with my life.”
His response, “Keep working towards it.”
She did. In spring 2014, she and husband Lucas expect to begin production at their artisan cheese making plant in Brooten, Minn. Their business is called Redhead Creamery, after the predominant hair color of Alise and her sisters.
“Our facility will turn out 60,000 pounds of cheese a year, a combination of fresh cheddar cheese curds and aged cheddar cheese,” explains Alise. “It’s very exciting. And it’s kind of scary. We know exactly how much we have to sell to keep this thing going.”
They’ll make their product distinct with their own spice rub formulations. Eventually, they will also produce washed rind cheese varieties like Brie.
You couldn’t come up with a better place to launch a dream to be a cheesemaker—Alise grew up on her parents’ dairy farm. Jerry and Linda Jennisen own Jer-Lindy Farms, which has 170 cows and just over 200 acres of crops, allowing them to feed the herd with their own land. The cheese plant will be just 150 feet from the Jer-Lindy dairy barn.
In college, Alise continued to share her dream with all the important people in her life. As a freshman, Alise ran for Princess Kay of the Milky Way, the contest to represent the dairy industry, and suddenly signs popped up all over Stearns County, reading “Cheese Alise!”
“That was right when we started dating,” explains Lucas. “I barely knew this girl, but the whole county knew that she was ‘Cheese Alise’ and knew that she had this dream. At the time, I told her ‘It’s a great dream, but don’t get your heart set on it.’”
But then he watched her really go after it. She graduated with a dairy food quality degree and went to work at Grafton Village Cheese, a highly renowned American cheddar maker in Vermont. When Alise and Lucas moved to Wisconsin—he pursued his career in communications at Hoard’s Dairyman: “The National Dairy Farm Magazine” — she worked at Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, and while working there, completed a certificate with the Vermont Institute for
“She’s well on her way to becoming a top dog in the cheese world,” enthuses Lucas. “The cheese plant is our investment for the future.”
Minnesota food innovators are producing hip, handcrafted shrubs and switchels from muddled fruit, sugar and vinegar. These traditional drinks have roots in Colonial times, when people used apple cider vinegar to preserve fruit for the winter.
Since 2002, AURI has recognized these kinds of businesses with the Ag Innovator of the Year award, presented to a Minnesota company that has shown innovation in the development of an ag-based product or process. The goal is to recognize the accomplishments of one deserving business and draw attention to value-added agriculture’s contributions to the state.
“We present this award to recognize innovation and excellence in Minnesota’s food and agriculture space,” says AURI Executive Director Shannon Schlecht. “AURI sees many great ideas from across the state and the award provides an opportunity to highlight a unique idea and innovative business.”
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With record crop yields projected for several regional commodities, the support and expansion of value-added agricultural products within Minnesota and the greater Midwest is of the utmost importance. In addition to increasing current demand, it will spur new demand opportunities as well. To that end, AURI is hosting a New Uses Innovation Forum for Minnesota’s […]