We reap what we sow.
Because of your (our customers’) patronage and word-of-mouth advertising over the years, Kriemhild is honored to have over 150 wholesale partners across New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts (each of which replenish numerous super markets, restaurants, bakeries, and independant grocers), as well as many more retailers we personally deliver to. Because of you, we have proudly grown into a regional dairy presence.
And while we’re certainly thrilled to watch our wholesale business grow, we never want to lose sight of our stomping -- or rather, our “churning” grounds. While our seasonal Meadow Butter and our Crème Fraîche are carried in many stores throughout the northeast United States, and are also available for purchase online, there’s still something to be said for the level of familiarity between producer and consumer that comes from the intimacy of in-person-transactions. It’s one of the reasons why we, as well as many of you, enjoy attending farmer’s markets. We get to see you in person and experience the joy you have for the food we make, to answer your questions, and to hear your feedback firsthand.
Our farm store The Kriemhild Kupboard began as a natural extension of the familiarity that we embrace at farmers’ markets. There’s a sign along route 12B, not far from Red Gate Farm, our sole Meadow Butter supplier, that marks the site of our future creamery; the sign optimistically says “Kriemhild Creamery”. Until creamery construction begins, we use the site as inventory storage for future Meadow Butter and Crème Fraîche shipments, and also as our administrative headquarters. Yet, many of you had suggested that it would be optimal to be able to buy your butter directly from Kriemhild HQ.
So, with timber harvested from Red Gate Farm, and hard work from Amish carpenter Roman Troyer, the Kriemhild Kupboard was built last spring. Now, you can pick up not only our Meadow Butter and Crème Fraîche as you pass by, but there’s also a variety of dairy delights including but not limited to: cheese curds from the Grassy Cow, Trimona grass fed bulgarian yogurt, Black and Bolyard brown butter and, our team favorite, Jones Family Farm gelato. Indeed, the Kupboard has given us a great outlet not only to market our food, but the food from our favorite farmers and food artisans as well.
If you visit the Kupboard, you’ll notice that the store is completely unstaffed. We choose to run the store on the honor system, so customers are responsible for tallying their own total and making their own change (don’t worry, we provided a calculator and a note pad). We believe that you trust us to make your food, and so we’ll trust you to pay for it. Of course, we’re sure you recognize the risk in leaving money and product unattended, and then advertise that both are there. But so far the experience has been positive, and so our mutual trust continues.
We are starting to realize that the Kupboard doesn’t just offer convenience for locals, but a sense of community as well. It seems our efforts to be transparent and accountable are being echoed by our customers. For instance, Kupboard visitors are not required or instructed to write down what products they buy, but they often do us the courtesy. We’ve had weeks when the income from the Kupboard has been short, only to receive a check in the mail a few days later to square up an I.O.U left in the cash box. People are not just paying for their food, but going out of their way to perpetuate the honor system.
More consumers want to know how their food is made, to the point where they want to consume their food in the place where it is made. You want to eat bagels in bakeries, drink beer at breweries, and have lunch at butcher shops. You want to know who’s handling your food. And we get it. It’s not just about ensuring the quality of the food (although that is a significant part). It’s about feeling like a part of a community and offering your contribution to support good foodcraft.
We look forward to the day when you can stop by to enjoy a bite at the Kupboard and gaze upon our new and fully-functional creamery, reveling in the knowledge that the people who are making your food possess integrity and share your values. And while you sit there taking it all in and savoring the flavors, it hits you that as a customer you had a part in building an honor system that’s much, much more than just a simple farm store.
-- Ellen Fagan
As the Butter Churns
Author: Ellen Fagan and Victoria Peila