On Saturdays at City Market, David Hemme introduces shoppers to fresh mozzarella, fresh and aged Cheddar, quark and cheese curds from his family's Hemme Brothers Creamery in Sweet Springs, Missouri.
Hemme Brothers Creamery is named after David’s four sons, who each returned to the family dairy farm after college. Now, all four help milk the 150 or so milk cows in the herd made up of Holstein, Brown Swiss and cross breeds. Nathan makes fresh and aged cheeses, Jon raises heifers and oversees the row crops, Aaron manages nutrition of the herd and Michael handles cattle reproduction.
The dairy farm and creamery is a farm-to-table operation. The sons raise the cows on crops grown on the farm, obtain milk from the cows, and produce cheeses from that milk. In central Missouri, Hemme Brothers transforms crop to cream to curd, much like farmers with Old World European traditions and practices have done for generations.
“We started the creamery two years ago to do value-added products,” David says, handing out samples of cubed Cheddar to market shoppers. “The farm has been a commercial dairy for 20 years. Eighty-two percent of our milk is sold to Dairy Farmers of America.”
Initially, the Hemmes worked with a consultant and the University of Missouri Extension. They gathered information and advice to develop a business plan and determine how to implement production for the creamery’s cheesemaking operation.
The creamery produces Cheddar aged one year, Cheddar smoked for 60 to 90 days, plain and flavored cheese curds, and quark, a German-style fresh cheese similar to cream cheese. Its newest product, fresh mozzarella, is an experiment as they determine if it is cost-effective and profitable to sell.
“We started making cheese curds first, and then quark,” David says. “They are fast products to make and sell. With aged cheese, you have lots of capital tied up with no turnover. We added fresh mozzarella to go with tomato season.”
Hemme Brothers sells along the I-70 corridor to select retail shops, such as The Better Cheddar on the Country Club Plaza, and grocery stores including the Hy-Vee in Lee’s Summit. Of course, Hemme Brothers cheese products may also be found in the City Market, where folks are tempted to stop and try a taste of spreadable quark or a nibble of aged Cheddar.
“We’re still in the brand-building stage,” David says.
He turns to hand a cheese sample to another customer. Two years into the creamery, Hemme Brothers is working to win over customers – one sample and sale at a time.
Hemme Brothers Creamery, hemmebrothers.com