Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

One of the best parts of going on vacation is all of the blog fodder it provides. This was certainly the case with the trip we took to Parksville a couple of weeks ago. Fun! Togetherness! New places to talk about! It’s really win-win, I think.

One of the places that we checked out in Parksville is Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. We visited the farm three years ago when we were in town, and I loved it. I am a fan of cheese, what can I say? So when we were back in the neighbourhood, I knew I had to visit again.

Jacob LOVES goats
Jacob meets some goats on the farm

Morningstar Farm is the home of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and MooBerry Winery. Since 1999 it has belonged to the Gourlays, who started milking cows and making cheese there in 2001. All of the milk for their cheeses comes from their own herd of cows, and all of the cheese is made on-site at the farm. They also grow berries for their fruit wines, and make all of the wine on site as well. The fruit and berries for the wine that aren’t grown on the farm are sourced locally.

The cows at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks
The cows, hard at work

The cheese, wine and pork that they produce and sell at the farm is not organic. However, they are definitely dedicated to sustainable practices and quality local food. Places like Little Qualicum Cheeseworks are the reason that I often opt for local over organic – by talking to people you can get a much better picture of the practices they follow than by reading labels. The Gourlays are dedicated to the local environment and to farming lightly. Although they do have some certifications that I appreciate, like the SPCA Certification that they treat their animals with great care and Environmental Partner Certification from The Land Conservancy.

Milking parlour
The milking parlour

We toured the farm and peeked through the window into the room where the cheese is made. Jacob got up close and personal with a goat. Hannah got up close and personal with a bunny. We saw some of the cutest calves ever. We tasted cheese and I tasted wine. And I got to chat with some of the folks about their farm.

Where the cheese is made
The outside of the cheeseworks

The cows at Little Qualicum are pasture-fed as long as the weather co-operates every year, and then they eat silage. Their milk is left raw for ripened cheeses and pasteurized for soft cheeses. Apparently, raw milk results in a more flavourful cheese. The pathogens that can live in milk have a lifespan of 60 days. So cheese that is aged for longer (like ripened cheese) will not contain live pathogens, but soft cheeses may and so they pasteurize that milk first. This is why pregnant women are cautioned against eating unpasteurized soft cheese.

Cheese!
The cheese

Living in the suburbs of a large city as we do, I don’t get to see the operations of a dairy farm first-hand. Or any farm, for that matter. Visiting Little Qualicum was a great chance for me, and for my children, to a get an up-close look at local agriculture. While I have bought Little Qualicum cheese at my local farmer’s market, the experience can’t compare. And the fruit wines, that you can’t get at the farmer’s market, were fabulous, too. ;)

You can also check out the video my lovely husband Jon made of our visit on YouTube:

PS – As you may know, I have started including a link-up with my monthly reviews. The reviews are an informal listing of a few things I learned in the past month. My June review will go live at 6am Pacific on Friday, July 2. If you want to play along, write a post on or before July 2, come here, and link up. I have a feeling this is going to be fun!

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    Comments

    1. Kim Holland says:

      The whole Parksville area is wonderful. I spent a week camping at Rathtrevor last August. If I had known you were going I would have had you pick up some Qualicum Spice cheese for me!

    2. Amber Krause Strocel says:

      Little Qualicum comes to the Vancouver farmer's market on Saturdays, and the Coquitlam farmer's market on Sundays, so you can get their stuff locally. :)

    3. Briana Tomkinson says:

      They're also often at the New Westminster Farmers Market on Thursdays!

    4. We bought some of their cheese at the farmer’s market a couple weeks ago and loved it. We’ll have to make a trip over there and see it for ourselves, Angelo would love it. Thanks!

    5. Between ice cream and cheese, YOU, my friend, are a certified dairy fanatic! I hear you and am with you all the way. Too bad about your hubby being lactose intolerant, that’s a drag…

    6. I love jon’s videos! That looks like a great place to visit
      Carrie’s last post … Its becoming a real zooMy Profile

    7. Mmmmm, yum! Wine and cheese! Plus you get the benefits of the educational aspects too. Sounds like a top notch place to go all around. I love the pictures too!

    8. I’ve already said this twice before but I love Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. They’re going to be at the Ladner Market tomorrow and you can bet I have my cash ready for some yummy cheese!
      Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)’s last post … BattlefieldMy Profile

    9. Ah, I never understood the whole ripe/soft cheese thing – thx.
      Lady M’s last post … Gone DancingMy Profile

    10. I’m putting that on my to-do list. Love their cheese and so delightful to see how it all works. And live animals for the kids!

    11. That looks like a nice, family-oriented vacation. Good fun!

    12. Love seeing your family have such a great time on vacation!
      Wendy Irene’s last post … Jumpstartcom Review -amp Giveaway-My Profile

    13. I could live on unpasteurized soft cheese. And tomatoes, must have tomatoes with it:)
      Francesca’s last post … dream placeMy Profile

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    1. [...] Thank you, Amber! Read more about Little Qualicum’s sustainable practices on Amber’s blog. [...]

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