Cheese store will move to Proctorsville

Retreat Farm to turn space into a new farm market

The Grafton Village Cheese Company (GVCC), a subsidiary of The Windham Foundation, recently announced the move of its retail store and cut-and-wrap operation to a new store east of downtown Ludlow in the village of Proctorsville.

A fixture at 400 Linden St. in Brattleboro for more than a decade, GVCC lost its lease when the building was sold to Retreat Farm in late 2022.

The acquisition of the GVCC facility by Retreat Farm was fully funded through a $3 million Senate appropriation secured by former U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy in collaboration with Retreat Farm founder Buzz Schmidt.

Administered by the Small Business Administration, the grant covered the building's $2.25 million acquisition and $750,000 in infrastructure improvements and renovations.

According a news release, GVCC "found it challenging to find an adequate space for both the retail store and the cut-and-wrap operation around Brattleboro, hence the move."

Store Manager Sherry DiBernardo said that "Brattleboro has been a great community to have been a part of the past 11 years, and we are very appreciative of the support from the town and the local patrons."

Writing a new chapter

The 2,300-square-foot space will now be the home of the Retreat Farm Market, set to open in June.

The market will be part of a new Food Center at Retreat Farm. According to a news release, the center will highlight "regional food producers dedicated to stewarding the land and their communities through environmental leadership, employee commitment, community giving, and workplace culture."

Retreat Farm said it has drawn on expertise from a regional advisory committee and local partners to develop the museum-inspired retail concept and food center. Partners include the Brattleboro Food Co-op and Food Connects.

"We have an opportunity to invest in the success of the next generation of farmers and local food-based businesses by working directly with emerging producers to showcase the good work they're doing in our communities," said Retreat Farm Executive Director Kristin Sullivan. "At the same time, we'll help visitors understand their role in the food system [and] to make informed purchases that positively impact our local economy and culture."

The market will continue cheese tastings while creating new experiences that connect visitors with featured producers, including cheese and beverage pairings, immersive chocolate-themed trail walks, and a weekend Fermentation Festival in September.

Visitors will also be able to view FinAllie Ferments - the Food Center's inaugural tenant, which will create its line of fermented foods there - through viewing windows in the mezzanine of the retail space.

The 26,000 square foot factory space once used by GVCC will eventually feature a cheesemaker and a commercial kitchen, providing an opportunity for emerging producers to do small batches and test limited-run products.

Same cheese shop, new location

Grafton Village Cheese CEO Curt Alpeter expressed his appreciation for the loyal following that DiBernardo and her cheesemonger team have built in Brattleboro.

"The company faced tough decisions after Covid, including the downsizing and streamlining of our operations," Alpeter said. "Most of our cheese is now being produced at the main plant in Grafton. The move to the Okemo Valley is another piece of the restructuring and revisioning for the company."

"I do hope for some kind of a retail presence again in Brattleboro," he said.

The company plans a soft opening at its new location on Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Regular operations will continue seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This News item was submitted to The Commons.

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