News Local

Empire Cheese gets grant to protect environment

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

CAMPBELLFORD -- Northumberland's last remaining cheese factory is spending over $300,000 to exceed environmental guidelines and protect area groundwater, plus control odour from its operations.

Half the cost of the project being undertaken by the Empire Cheese and Butter Coop near Campbellford, $187,000, is a provincial government grant, says Co-op manager Jack Oliver.

The co-op was created in 1953 but Empire Cheese began back in the 1870s. Today, the factory makes curd, cheddar and a series of flavoured mozzarella cheeses including black pepper and garlic, Oliver said in a recent interview.

Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi said that the project can improve the environment, particularly with the disposal of whey, a bi-product of the cheese-making process.

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson Brent Ross said that a 45,000-litre waste water bank will be installed and then the contents spread on farmers' fields when seasonal and weather conditions permit. An aerator will also be purchased as part of the upgrade in controlling odour.

The co-op employs about 22 people at this time of year and up to 28 during its busy seasons such as Christmas, Oliver said. It recently won at Gold Award at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.