GROTON — Old Chatham Creamery, an artisanal cheese and yogurt company, has set up shop in Groton and will officially open its new facility by mid-September.
The company, which was founded 26 years ago in Old Chatham near Albany, is known for making dairy products from sheep milk produced by its own flock of sheep.
David Galton, the president of the company, had been planning the new plant on 210 Gerald L. Moses Drive for several years, said company spokesman Max Sandvoss. The 40,000-squarefoot facility is a massive expansion for the company, which is housed in a 5,000-square-foot building in Old Chatham. Sandvoss said the company outgrew its old facility and needed more space, so it decided to move to the Groton building, which it expanded by 12,000 square feet to its current size.
The Groton operation will initially employ about 20 workers.
“We’ve made some hires from the community recently,” Sandvoss said.
The Groton facility was formerly owned by Challenge Workforce Solutions and the affiliated Finger Lakes Food Hub. Sandvoss said Old Chatham has been upgrading the building over the past two years.
Old Chatham moving to Groton is “a great thing” for Tompkins County, said Chuck Schwerin, managing director of business services at Tompkins County Area Development.
“We’re certainly excited about having food production companies here,” Schwerin said.
“We’re interested in the growth of businesses in the county that are not just looking to sell their goods and services within the county but also looking to export their products beyond the county.”
Old Chatham makes dairy products from non-GMO sheep, goat and cow milk. The company’s sheep milk comes from its own flock of about 1,400 ewes — a mix of East Friesian and Lacaune breeds — in nearby Locke.
“We produce all our own milk,” Sandvoss said. “It’s an important part of what we do.”
It’s also how the company stands out from the crowd of artisanal dairy products.
“There’s not a whole lot of sheep milk in America,” Sandvoss said.
Old Chatham is particularly known for its Hudson Valley Camembert as well as its Nature’s Perfect sheep yogurt, Sandvoss said.
Schwerin said he was also pleased to see a new occupant in the building formerly occupied by Challenge Workforce Solutions. “It’s gleaming — state-of-the-art,” he said of the new facility.
Old Chatham partners with other business — notably Wegman’s and Murray’s Cheese, but also Crown Finish Caves in Brooklyn — in the production of several cheeses. These companies age cheeses freshly made by Chatham. It recently won several honors from among 1,742 entires at the annual American Cheese Society competition, including Overall Best in Show.