Just an hour from Reno, in the oasis of Nevada, you will find hundreds of heifers making more than just milk; they are making history.
"Let's go, girls. Let's go, girls. Come on. Come on. There you go," says Isidro Alves to a fraction of his 500 cows making their way into the milking parlor. He is a dairy farmer and opened Sand Hill Dairy in Fallon nearly a dozen years ago. His herd produces roughly 5,000 gallons of milk a day.
Unlike most dairy farms, which haul their milk to processing plants, "We started branching out a little to see if we could sell our own product and it's kind of a neat thing to see your name on labels." Sand Hill Dairy isn't just on milk cartons, either. Two years ago, Isidro decided to grow his goods even more. Sand Hill Dairy became the first farm in Nevada to make cheese on-site. "Cows are milked on one side of the wall and our processing is done on the other side of the wall. The milk never travels in a bulk truck." This farmstead cheese is as fresh as it gets.
Sand Hill Dairy started with Queso Fresco, which is sold in markets and restaurants all over northern Nevada. They are now working on making mozzarella. When we arrived to meet Isidro, his crew was cooking the curd to firm it up, before stretching and packaging it. I even tried a piece before it cooled down completely and it was delicious! From beginning to end, Isidro monitors the process. His new ventures have meant more work and less sleep, "The milk has to be pasteurized every day so I do it very early - about 2 o'clock." Isidro says, however, the finished product is worth it. "If it comes up stretching really nice and shiny, then we've done a good job," he explains as the mozzarella comes out of the pot exactly as he had hoped.
The demand for locally-made milk and cheese is exactly why Isidro continues to expand. He says northern Nevadans want to know where their food is coming from and how it is made. As the demand for his products continue, so does his desire to continue producing household favorites, like milk and cheese, made fresh on the farm. "As long as we're healthy and we have some luck, we'll just keep going."
You can find Sand Hill Dairy products sold or used at the following restaurants and grocery stores:Reno: Campo RenoChuy's Mexican KitchenLa Chiquita Mexican Market (milk and cheese)Scolari's Caughlin Ranch (milk only)Great Basin Community Food Co-op (milk only) Sparks: Scolari's Disc Drive (milk only) Carson City:Centro Market (milk and cheese)Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint Fernley:Scolari's Fallon:Slanted PorchHecks Meat CompanySkip's Mini-Market
To learn more about Sand Hill Dairy, like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sand-Hill-Dairy/3341133566248823500 Trento Lane, Fallon, Nevada 89406(888) 388-4011
Written by Kristen Remington