Award winning cheesemaker Debra Allard is the woman behind the popular Mullumbimby Farmers Market stall, Cheeses Loves You. She makes her cheese on-farm at Burringbar, where she and husband Jim run a herd of Jersey cows.
What do you sell at the market? Jersey milk cheese, natural yoghurt and kefir. No preservatives, some items don’t even have salt!
How did you come to be a farmer? Well you can blame my mother and mother in law… they met in the Burringbar butcher shop 26 years ago and decided Jim and I needed a date… 11 months later we were married and I became a farmers’ wife. Jim is a fourth generation dairy farmer but there was a 40 year gap before he restarted the dairy exactly two years ago. When it’s in your blood then you can’t avoid it.
What motivates you to get out of bed every day? I love making and selling cheese! I dream about making cheese! Also if I don’t beat Jim to the dairy then the milk goes into his vat and not my cheese vat. I jump out of bed at 4.30am Thursday Friday and Saturday to do the markets and 5.35 Sunday Tuesday and Wednesday to make cheese.
What’s your favourite cheese? I think the appearance of the brie and washed rind cheeses makes me love them more. The crinkly brain surface of the brie is so attractive.
Top tip ? I don’t pre-wrap my hard or soft mould cheese so at the market I wrap the chosen cheese in baking paper and then a paper bag so I tell the customer to go home and put the cheese in a well-sealed container so the fridge doesn’t dry the cheese out.
What’s the best thing about being part of the farmers market? The customers who give me money to pay my bills! That’s the reality of life. The vegans who want/need to come back to dairy for health reasons and choose my cheese because I have such a passion and can talk about our love for the cows. When a first time customer wants to buy everything because they are so excited to see my range.
Tell us something most people wouldn’t know about you? I am allergic to cows milk, cheese and cow hair. Sinus when I drink milk, eczema with cheese and hives with cow hair. I call myself a very special Princess!
What would you be doing if you weren’t a cheesemaker? Reading a book!