Multiple packages of fresh mozzarella cheese from Maplebrook Farm. The cheese is wrapped in clear plastic and labeled with green and white stickers indicating "Maplebrook Farm Fresh Mozzarella." The packages are arranged in rows on a metal tray or shelf.

Maplebrook Farm Expands Production and Sustainability with Major Grant 

By Katie Spring, Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center 

Maplebrook Farm of Bennington, Vermont, is well known for its mozzarella.

While they have a wide range of offerings – including feta, burrata, stracciatella, ricotta, and cheddar bites – it was co-founder Mike Schepp’s mozzarella that started it all. In 2003, when Johann Englert started selling Mike’s Vermont-made cheese to specialty shops in Boston, demand grew so fast that the two quickly went into business together.  

Today, over 20 years later, Maplebrook Farm has grown to 65 employees, including Johann’s grandson Alex Englert, who is now a co-owner. In 2022, the business grew again when it partnered with Ploughgate Creamery, taking on production of the artisanal, small-batch cultured butter. 

Now, with support from the Existing Dairy Processor Expansion Grant, Maplebrook is transforming its operations. 

Three people wearing white shirts and black pants, making cheese in large stainless steel vats at Maplebrook Farm, where they are expanding their processing.
Making cheese in a production room at Maplebrook Farm

The $504,132 of grant funding is allowing Maplebrook to purchase specialized equipment that increases efficiency, sustainability, and volume of locally sourced milk and cream. One of the key pieces of equipment is a milk separator, which will nearly double Maplebrook’s cream production from 10,000 to 18,000 gallons annually. This will not only increase butter production but also enable the creation of new products like mascarpone, helping to balance seasonal fluctuations in demand.  

The addition of a water-cooling system will dramatically cut water usage by 66%, saving 2.2 million gallons annually. This system will also reduce energy costs and improve the quality and shelf life of Maplebrook’s products by ensuring consistent cooling temperatures year-round. A rotary filler will automate packaging, eliminating current bottlenecks and extending product shelf life. Bringing the expansion full circle to their original cheese, a new steam cooker/stretcher will increase mozzarella yield by 7%. 

Alongside their new equipment, Maplebrook is working with a consultant to achieve Safe Quality Foods (SQF) Level 2 certification.

This will open up new co-manufacturing opportunities, which, thanks to the new equipment, they will be well situated for. By 2026, Maplebrook aims to double its production and milk use, processing 14 million pounds of milk into cheese and butter.  

“Receiving the grant allows us to finally take the first step in a robust expansion plan to double capacity and bring new innovative products to market,” said Alex Englert. “What had been an overwhelming and daunting expansion project is now underway because of this grant. We feel very grateful for the opportunity to share our cheese with more people and continue to highlight Vermont’s unparalleled milk quality.” 

This expansion will allow Maplebrook to increase the use of local milk and cream, reach new markets, and consolidate its processing spaces, setting the stage for continued growth and success.  

Alex Englert and Mike Schepps at Maplebrook Farm
Alex Englert and Mike Schepps, co-owners of Maplebrook Farm

Dairy processors looking to make investments can explore NE-DBIC programs, including the Dairy Processor Modernization Grant, which is open from June 27 through August 8, 2024. 

To see a full list of dairy innovation grants, visit our funding calendar

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