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Cheese Issue

Kids gotta eat. Snack time at Shellbark Hollow Farm.

No Kids Allowed?

Cheese lovers embrace Chester Country’s highly regarded small dairies, but some neighbors prefer suburban living with all kidding aside story by emily teel • photos by albert yee


longside Pete Demchur’s driveway in suburban West Chester, Pa. is a paddock of big-eared Nubian goats. They chew alfalfa hay, browse for plants, and walk their front legs up the fence to investigate visitors. Beyond the paddock is a stand of lush bamboo. Just beyond that is a group of townhomes. Demchur owns and operates Shellbark Hollow Farm, producing small-batch goat cheeses. He never planned for his home on a 3.5-acre lot in West Chester to become a farm; the slow transition into farming began when his family gave him a pair of goats as a Father’s Day gift. A framed photo of those original goats sits on top of the living room television, alongside photos of the children who gave them to him. Demchur bred the pair, then started milking and making cheese. “Over the years,” he says, “the goats just took over the whole place.” Cheesemaking and caring for the herd could be a full–time job for Demchur, but


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like many farmers, he has one job to pay the bills (in his case, repairing industrial air compressors), and another to feed the dream. Devoted to his animals, he sleeps with a baby monitor during kidding season, listening to the goats in the barn and ready to assist in labor should the need arise. Demchur and his sister, Donna, sell Shellbark Hollow Farm kefir, yogurt, and fresh and aged goat cheeses at several area farmers markets and restaurants, including Southwark, R2L, Craft Ale House, Kimberton Inn, Styer’s at Terrain, and Di Bruno Brothers.

Pete Demchur of Shellbark Hollow Farm.

Grid Magazine July 2013 [#051]  

Towards a Sustainable Philadelphia

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