Hi there, welcome!
Ploughgate creamery is a farm Owned and operated by butter maker and entrepreneur, Marisa Mauro.
Ploughgate Creamery has been crafting small-batch, cultured butter of the finest quality in Vermont since 2014.
A special thanks to The Vermont Land Trust, which provided Marisa with the opportunity to purchase the century-old Bragg Farm in Fayston, VT. Their incredible Farmland Access Program allows ambitious farmers to compete to purchase land at an affordable rate. Marisa submitted her own business plan to claim Bragg Farm and was the selected winner in 2013. She has been awarded the opportunity of a lifetime, building her small business in one of the most picturesque corners of the world.
First, cultured butter: what is it?
In short it's butter made in the European style by adding live active cultures to cream before churning, similar to cheese or yogurt.
Cultured butter is tangier and richer than your everyday stick butter, with a taste reminiscent of cheese. That’s because cultured butter and cheese share a critical first step – the addition of beneficial live bacteria (the ‘culture’ in cultured butter). All Ploughgate Creamery butter begins as pasteurized cream from a dairy cooperative in St. Albans, Vermont.
To begin the butter-making process, Marisa adds active cultures to the cream and lets it sit for 48 hours. This imparts complexity to the aroma, flavor, and texture of the finished product. After two days it’s time to churn. Gratefully the days of hand churning are long gone, and Marisa’s industrial churn does the work of separating the pale yellow butterfat from the frothy buttermilk. A drain on the underbelly of the churn releases the buttermilk into a five-gallon bucket. A mason jar’s worth is saved to make salad dressings; the rest is fed to Marisa’s pigs. Finally Marisa folds in sea salt by hand before wrapping the butter into tidy half and one-pound packages. The end result is nutty, grassy, and sweet – simply divine.
Ploughgate Creamery is not the first to make butter at the Bragg Farm. In fact, Marisa is reviving a hundred-year old tradition on these grounds. To learn more about who Marisa is, how she found her way to Bragg Farm, and the history of this land read below.
A young lady meets an old farm and a delectable butter is born.
Marisa got her first taste of dairy life at age 15. As a farmhand at Woodcock Farm in Weston, Vermont – a stone’s throw from her hometown of Dorset - she was introduced to artisan cheesemaking. In it she discovered a passion that would set her on a decade-long course working with some of the most renowned cheesemakers in the country including Yerba Santa & Bodega Goat Cheese, Shelburne Farms, and Bonneview Dairy. At age 23, Marisa put those years of study to work. She founded Ploughgate Creamery in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and began making her own cheese, including a buttery washed-rind cow’s milk named Willoughby.
For three years Ploughgate’s cheeses earned her accolades and fans until a fire destroyed the cheesemaking facility in 2011, ceasing Ploughgate Creamery’s production. Marisa was 26 years old. Following the loss, she took a break from the dairy industry and didn’t have plans to return.
While working as a waitress in Waterbury, Vermont, friend notified her that the Vermont Land Trust had purchased a historic property in Fayston. They would resell it for its agricultural value to the entrepreneur with the best plan. Marisa visited the property and was immediately inspired to apply. Resurrecting her cheese operation would have been the obvious choice but she was ready for a new challenge.
While artisan cheese production in New England was thriving, butter was being neglected. Marisa drafted a 30-page business plan and entered a pool of thirteen candidates vying to take ownership of Bragg Farm. Like cream from milk, Marisa rose to the top and was awarded that opportunity in December 2013.
Azro and Anna Bragg were the first in a long line of Braggs to own the Fayston property (and bestowers of the farm’s namesake). It turns out Azro and Anna also made butter, and lots of it. Carefully preserved letters from Bragg family members tell of butter that was hand-churned from the milk of forty cows and transported to Boston by way of wagon and train. It’s fitting symmetry that a century later Marisa’s butter travels the same route.
On June 12, 1909 a small army of locals participated in framing the structure. Since then it has seen intermittent periods of activity and idle. Until Marisa, Bragg Farm had not been used as a dairy enterprise since the early 1970s. Without the Vermont Land Trust’s conservation efforts changing that trajectory it likely would have remained that way.
Resurrecting the farm from a forty-year hiatus delivered the challenge Marisa sought. Her first year was spent on construction projects, equipment sourcing, and recipe testing. Each presented its own roadblocks. As her initial research foretold, little equipment matching the scale of her vision was available. Undeterred, Marisa patched together a solution. She purchased a churn from Wisconsin and a separator from Ukraine. The latter she had modified in Maine to meet U.S. standards.
After renovations to the 100-year old property were complete, Ploughgate Creamery commenced butter making in 2014.
BEGIN A BUTTER RITUAL.
Does any joy parallel warm bread slathered with melty butter?
We've researched it thoroughly and the answer is no. But if you haven't yet been indoctrinated into the cult of cultured butter take note, butter's even better than you think.
HEAD HERE FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF LOCATIONS WHERE PLOUGHGATE BUTTER IS SOLD.
Thank you to all of the people who have supported the revival of Bragg Farm and Ploughgate Creamery operations especially my family Pappa Maur0 and Charles.
The continued support of Ed Case, Alex Fetherolf, Emily Nichols, and Ali Kaukas have made this project possible and a burden of love. I have always wanted to make butter, just for the fact that I love it. -Marisa