LAKEVIEW, Mich., (WZZM)- If you think cheese is only made in Wisconsin, think again. Several varieties are being made right here in Michigan.
"We're currently about 110 Amish families, so we bring-in about 700 of the old stainless steel milk cans, hand-milked every morning," says Jim Nunley, the owner of Farm Country Cheese House in Lakeview.
He has a unique partnership with the Amish. He runs the business and the Amish provide most of the manual labor. "The crops are planted using a horse to till the ground, to hand-milking, to carrying a hundred pound milk can into here."
The factory was started in 1984. It gives the Amish a place to take milk from their dairy farms. "There's no other market for the community to sustain their way of life through farming."
The cheese is made in the back of the store. It starts when enzymes are added to the milk. "It's taking milk and making the milk curdle in about a half hour."
Workers monitor the liquid as it begins to harden. When it's thick enough to be pressed into large chunks, its taken to another room where it's sliced and put in packages. Because the Amish can't use electricity, the machines run on air.
100,000 lbs. of cheese are made each month in 26 to 28 different flavors. Right now, it's even busier as several online orders are being filled for the holidays. "It's all made right here. We buy as much of our products, boxes, labels, bags, all Michigan."
The factory has a retail store in the front. Visitors from all over the state make the drive, just to buy cheese made by the Amish. From their seasonal favorite "Christmas Cheddar" to cheese curds, it's about as fresh as you can get.