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Waccabuc Family Turns Passion Into Business

WACCABUC - “I’ve always had a passion for cheese,” said Waccabuc resident Jill Jones.

That passion has led to a major life change for Jones and her family. Two years ago, Jill and her husband, Galen, bought Crowley Cheese, the longest continuing cheese-making company in the country. Founded in 1824 by the Crowley family, the company makes hand-made artisan cheeses out of its factory in Healdville, Vermont.

Jones has a background in marketing and software, while her husband has worked as a media consultant for companies such as Times Warner.

“The idea was to acquire the business and it would be mine,” she said. “The plan was for [Galen] to continue with his consulting business, but help out with the cheese company. We figured that with our backgrounds, we could make a go of it.”

The challenge, Jones said, is to find a way to grow the company, but keep its artisan nature.

“The factory is an antique; it’s on the National Historic Register,” she said. “The cheese is made by hand, so we can only produce about 120,000 pounds a year. We need to figure out how to scale the business up. The quandary we face is how to grow the company and make and sell more cheese without comprising the old-fashion aspect of it.”

Jones said they’re still learning about the cheese industry and that many of the organizations and cheese dairies throughout Vermont are kicking in to help.

“It’s been incredibly exciting,” she said, “but there’s been a lot to learn. We’ve spent a lot of time getting up to speed. There are a lot of organizations who help small businesses through their resources.”

Jones spends a lot of time at the cheese factory, but still manages to come back to the area to sell her product at area farmers markets, including the one in Wilton, Connecticut, as well as the Gossetts Farmers Market in South Salem.

The Joneses have owned a home in Vermont for some time and hope to move there eventually. They’d like to sell their house in Waccabuc, but their timing is off as the real estate market remains in a funk.

“We are kind of in limbo right now,” Jones said.

Meanwhile, her son continues to go to school here, while her grown daughters help out with the business.

While the cheese isn’t readily available in area supermarkets, it can be ordered online at crowleycheese.com or by calling (800) 683-2606.

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