Monforte Dairy Company

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Brief description of the business

Monforte is an artisanal dairy specializing in sheep milk cheeses, located in Stratford, Ontario. monforte logoIt was founded in 2003 by Ruth Klahsen, owner and lead cheese maker. Monforte has doubled sales every year, culminating in $1 million in sales in 2008. In January 2009, Monforte found itself without a place to make cheese. Instead of packing it in, Ruth decided to open her own facility. Without enough equity in the business (vats, pasteurizers, etc.) she couldn’t find sufficient funding. So she turned to her loyal customer base and offered Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions to raise the capital to build the new dairy. On July 1st, Monforte moved into 49 Griffith Road and construction will begin soon to transform the building into a functioning dairy. Almost 550 people have purchased CSAs amounting close to $250,000. Monforte uses only seasonal milk from humanely treated animals. Monforte believes in sustainable farming practices and fair prices for farmers.

What do you think are the most pressing food and agriculture issues facing Ontario?

Consumer education about producing food, including land stewardship, the cost of infrastructure for artisanal production and the true cost of food. In addition, farming and food production must become viable. This includes ensuring fair pay for farmers so they can afford to farm and ensuring adequate income for consumers, including the poor, so they can afford the true cost of food. The cost of food should not come off the back of farmers.

What role do you see Sustain Ontario playing to address these issues?

Sustain Ontario can advocate to government to ensure farming is viable and sustainable. Sustain Ontario can also help teach kids how to cook and to educate consumers to understand the real costs of food and address the disconnect between farming and consumption.