Local farm’s ‘kids’ behind award-winning cheese

Farmers markets are a wonderful way to get your hands on local goods and produce. But one local farm gives customers the chance to get even closer to the source. Meet the “kids” and creators behind Firefly Farms in Garrett County, Maryland.

WASHINGTON — Maybe you’ve visited a farmers market and enjoyed the freshness of the food: apples that are crisp, not mealy, eggs with golden yolks that scramble into a fluffy delight … But who’s behind that produce?

Putting a face to the farm is part of what Mike Koch likes to do. He’s the executive director at Fresh Farm Markets that operates farmers markets from Dupont Circle to St. Michaels, Maryland. Koch wants everyone to enjoy the bounty of the farmers’ labors, and loves putting the spotlight on the small businesses that sprout from farm operations.

Koch has a real appreciation for the farmers at the markets he administers; he’s a producer himself. Koch and his business partner Pablo Solanet, a former chef, started experimenting with cheese-making after buying property in Garrett County. A neighbor had some goats, they asked if they could milk them, and Firefly Farms was born.

By 2002, they had an award-winning cheese called “Merry Goat Round,” and expanded from testing cheeses in their kitchen to a full-blown farm operation. Now, the two — who have since married — buy their goat’s milk from Kevin Yutzy, a farmer in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, and operate the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market in Accident, Maryland.

The shop offers the full line of Firefly Farms’ cheeses and spotlights other locally grown and produced foods and wines. There are wine tastings at the market, where customers can explore what foods and wines pair best with their favorite cheese. And the store, on the main street of Accident, offers a window on the process of cheese-making — literally. There are windows that allow customers to see the process from when the curds are separated from the whey, to how each variety of cheese is packed and aged.

Looking for recipes for your upcoming Thanksgiving Day feast? Firefly Farms has some ideas — click here to learn more.

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