Thistle Hill Farm
Thistle Hill Farm is a certified organic dairy farm located in North Pomfret, Vermont, owned and operated by John and Janine Putnam and their four children, aged ten to eighteen. The Putnams have been farming organically for over fifteen years, beginning with vegetables and beef, and culminating in organic cheese making. Other than incidental part time help, the family makes Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise from the ground up. Every aspect of creating the cheese, from caring for the hay fields and pastures, bringing in the hay and caring for and milking the Jersey dairy cows is done on the farm by the Putnam family.
Thistle Hill Farm has been a certified organic farm for over fifteen years. The farm was one of the first organic dairy farms to supply the Organic Cow of Vermont, now a part of Horizon. The farm, however, started out as a part time endeavor with 26 Hereford beef cows and vegetables. As the farm began to improve, beef did not hold the interest or complexity of dairy, and then, dairy alone, although far more profitable, proved not sustainable for our family and farm in the hills of Vermont.
In 1999 the Putnams went to Switzerland, where, following the advice and descriptions of Steven Jenkins in "Cheese Primer" (Workman Publishing, 1996), they visited almost every major cheesemaking region in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps. Seeking a cheese which they loved, and matching as closely as possible the climate of Pomfret Vermont, their family of six found ourselves in Beaufort France, which had everything a family could need: A coin operated laundromat and a cheese we knew we would like to get to know better. After exhausting the local bar's supply of 5 franc coins on the washing machines and the Beaufort cheesemakers' English, we headed back down the valley knowing we would be back.