At the headwaters of the Kokosing River in Mount Gilead, Ben and Lisa Sippel's Kokoborrego Cheese Company churns out artisan cheeses made from sheeps' milk. With their son, Charlie, the Sippels raise livestock and grow vegetables organically on their 77-acre Morrow County spread, as well as operate Ohio's first licensed sheep dairy.
"Lisa and her brother [Ben Baldwin] have been making cheese and testing recipes for the past two years, in preparation for the startup," says Ben Sippel. "Our smaller, family farm facilities lend itself to smaller livestock, like sheep, and we're always looking for niche markets to fill, so with Lisa's interest in cheese, it made sense."
Cheese should help smooth the farm's cash flow. "If you go to the farmers' market with a truckload of vegetables and it rains, people don't come. You're going home with those vegetables; you don't get a second chance," Sippel says. "But with cheese, you can bring it back next week."
According to Sippel, there are only about 100 licensed sheep dairies in the United States, including about three dozen that produce sheep cheese. "We currently sell mostly retail and have wholesale produce relationships with several local businesses, like Northstar [Café], Luna Burger and John Skaggs at Two Caterers," says Sippel, whose wares can be found at the Clintonville and Olde Worthington farmers markets.
For more information, visit www.sippelfamilyfarm.com.
Reprinted from the June 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.