By KYLE HENCE/ecoRI News staff
MIDDLETOWN — Simmons Farm will soon have some of the freshest cow cheese available on the shelves of Aquidneck Island grocers.
Karla Simmons, a regular presence at area farmers’ markets, runs the 120-acre organic farm with her husband, Brian. Their farm is a family operation that stretches back generations to the 1600s and the first settlers of the Rhode Island colony.
As interest in local and organic food grows, so have opportunities for Simmons Farm. Its latest expansion to meet growing market demand comes in the form of a Grade A dairy that opened in June.
Simmons recently met with Jim Ferlauto, a manager at A Market in Newport, to run through the dairy products that Simmons Farm is now small-batch processing.
“We are going to start carrying the products and will put an order in soon,” Ferlauto said.
This is the first big push this year to expand their marketing to local stores, according to Simmons. “We hope to have a regular supply of cheese year-round,” she said. “Cow cheese. The goats are still on their hiatus but likely will come back mid-march.”
None of the animals at the farm are given antibiotics or growth hormones, and all the products and produce are certified organic.
Cow dairy products will include fresh cheddar curd, fromage blanc and whole milk yogurt. Goat dairy products will include chèvre and goat milk yogurt.
Simmons Farm established its certified Grade A dairy facility last year with financing from the Farm Service Agency, which allows for loan payments on a farmer’s schedule. “So we pay them at the end of summer,” Simmons said.
The dairy complements the farm’s successful CSA — community-supported agriculture program — that accounts for 75 percent of the business, according to Simmons. The farm’s stand on West Main Road also will have fresh dairy products available Thursdays from 3-6 p.m., as will Thames Street Kitchen in Newport.