December 8, 2021

Say ‘cheese’ in Groton

New processing site expected to add 15 to 20 jobs

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Shepherd’s Way farm manager Clyde Sammons, left, shows Laurie Wright, of Groton, the main barn of the sheep and goat dairy during a tour Thursday in Locke.

GROTON — Here’s what you’ll see shortly at the Groton Industrial Park on Route 222: 14,000 square feet of new refrigerated space; perhaps 500,000 or 600,000 tubs of yogurt; maybe 35 tons of cheese — that’s a lot of cheese. And 15 or 20 new jobs.

Since May, David and Sally Galton, owners of Old Chatham Sheepherding Creamery in Locke, have been doing work at the park. “We’re adding on 14,000 square feet of new facility to the 17,000-square-foot current facility,” David Galton said.

It’s all in effort to create space for a creamery to produce sheep’s milk and goat milk products. The site used to house Challenge Industries, said Mike Andersen, village code officer and building enforcement.

The company, a supported work contractor, processed food for stores and schools, but stopped about two years ago.

“About a year ago we looked at working with Challenge Industries” to acquire the space, David Galton said.

The business will be a welcome sight to Groton. “It’s supposed to create a dozen or two (dozen) jobs,” said Mayor Chris Neville.

Neville said the village is glad to see the old building at the industrial park being used again instead of a new one being built. Neville also hopes the business helps spark other development.

The Galtons have run the farm since 2014, when they bought it from Tom and Nancy Clark. The creamery the Galtons now lease and use is located in Old Chatham, Columbia County. However, once the creamery in Groton is complete the business will move there.

Galton said around 2,000 goats and sheep are milked at the farm, creating around 175,000 gallons of milk per year.

Amelia Radcliffe, 7, of Groton, reaches out to a newborn lamb during a tour Thursday at Shepherds Way in Locke.

The Galtons now send their milk to the eastern part of the state for processing, Galton said. The processing plant in Groton would keep things closer.

“Half goes into yogurt and the other half into specialty cheeses,” Galton said.

Once the milk is produced at the farm, it will be shipped by Alnye in Moravia to the creamery in Groton, where it will be processed into yogurt or cheese. “It’s a more artisanal, handcrafted niche market product,” Galton said.

American-style yogurts come in flavors like vanilla, ginger, maple, blueberry, American cherry and plain.

The cheeses come in three flavors — Nancy’s Hudson Valley camembert, Ewe’s blue and Kinderhook Creek. The products are sold locally through Wegmans, Galton said.

“We hope to be finished (with construction) by the end of the year,” Galton said.