Wisconsin has long been know as America's Dairyland... But some dairy farmers have had to land second jobs because of low milk prices. That's how an Augusta family got into a new adventure, an adventure in cheese.
If you're on highway 12 and have a little time... You might want to do some window shopping... "You name it we can make it," says Virgil Schunk.
But it's more like window learning, because at the gingerbread jersey cheese factory in Augusta, you can see how what you slice and savor gets started."When you hand people a product right from your farm and they say oh, it's so good, that's the greatest reward," says Schunk.
Virgil schunk is a cow milker and cheese maker... He and his wife Carolyn spent six years planning and preparing for their own cheese factory and store... and they're okay being a little chunk of the big cheese wheel. "We knew we couldn't compete with the big factories selling it by the semi load so we like to sell fresh product from wholesome and healthy herd," he says. So instead of pouring their herd's milk profits down the drain, they are pouring their hearts into this business... It's part of the schunk's long term plan.
"As we get older and the children take over farming this would fit grandma and grandpa better," Carolyn Schunk says.
Some of the kids provide milk from their own farms, a couple others help mom run the store. And all the while, dad Virgil stirs and mixes, and still manages to milk at home.
"we put in a lot of hours," says Virgil. Carolyn adds, "it's exciting to see plans come together." The Schunks say business is good, and they're constantly churning up new ideas for cheese from colby to cheddar to a new dutch gouda... 20 flavors in all... and all a taste of success. Carolyn says they will "wait and see where it takes us."
The Gingerbread Jersey Cheese factory is actually a mobile unit, parked next to the permanent store. But you'll see the cheese outside Augusta too, because the Schunks also take it to farmer's markets.