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Ohio Guild Looking For Ideas

October 9th, 2017 | Posted by Ohio Cheese Guild in Guild Building

Four years ago, 5 Ohio artisan cheesemakers and I sat together in the lobby of the Mohican State Lodge here in Ohio and formed the Ohio Cheese Guild. We are have having growing pains and difficulties generating membership. We have an enthusiastic Board of Directors and energetic President and over 100 members but nothing seems to be coming together as a coherent entity. Any help and suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Our website could use some work: (ohiocheeseguild.org) We also have been trying to get an Ohio Cheese Trail initiated. Thank you for your help.

–Kent Rand
cheesemonger ACS-CCP
Weilands Market

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2 Responses

  • GuildGuy says:

    Kent–

    Thank you for reaching out to the Guilds Network! I think you have a lot of positive ideas and energy if you have an enthusiastic board, an energetic President, and over 100 members. That’s a lot to be proud about. I’m going to think about this for a little bit and get back to you with some specific suggestions based on my own experience with the Maine Cheese Guild that might help you move forward. I will post them here shortly.

  • From the Maine perspective I can tell you that the very best “bonding” exercise we have is our meetings. In Maine we schedule all of next year’s nine meetings at our Annual Meeting.

    One meeting a year is always held at the annual State Agriculture trade show, and the rest are held at different members’ facilities around the state. That way everyone can have at least one meeting nearby them, they can choose among the different meetings and put them in their calendars well ahead of time.

    I admit that it takes some courage for the first time meeting host to invite an unknown number of other cheese makers into their facility to see how they process their products, but it has always been a positive experience for those hosts because at the same time that a visiting cheese maker might get an idea about how to do something differently, the hosts are also able to get honest feedback from their professional colleagues that often lead to improvements in their own process. It could be the suggestion to try a different piece of equipment, or different cleaning product, or a heads-up on a really good supplies vendor – we’ve never heard from a meeting host that the experience was bad for them and/or that they’d prefer never to host a meeting again.

    So I would encourage you to set a meeting schedule (it doesn’t have to be nine meetings, it could be six, or even three), move it around the region, and get the schedule out there well in advance. Don’t be discouraged if the first few meetings do not immediately show an increase in interest – as long as they are positive events it won’t take long for your members to hear that it’s worth their time to attend a few meetings…

    Another fun part of meetings for all your members is to bring samples of your cheeses for others to taste – where else can you get unbiased and professional feedback on your products than at a gathering of other cheese makers. Many of our members use the meetings as a way to test and talk about new products.

    In advance of our December “Holiday Party” we choose a single cheese recipe and ask as many members as possible to make that recipe, age it, and then bring it to taste together at the meeting. It’s an amazing exercise that shows how important the role of the Maker, milk, and local microbes are in the creation of a wheel of cheese because inevitably they are all quite different.

    Also, once people get used to the meeting schedule, each host can decide to add a “featured guest” who might be an out-of-state cheese maker, an equipment supplier, a dairy research scientist, or maybe even a favorite retailer. There are many different folks that could put together a short presentation that the members would be interested in hearing, and the presenters might also enjoy being able to meet a bunch of local cheese makers all in one place.
    I hope that helps.



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