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#4 Kasselshoop Cheese

#SupportSmallCheesemakers: #4 #KasselshoopCheese

Introducing @Kasselshoop Cheese – with owners Kassie and Liesel Kasselman

Location: Stilbaai, Garden Route, Western Cape

Agri-Expo in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture annually sponsors a number of small cheesemakers at the #SACheeseFest to showcase their hand-crafted products and treat your taste buds.

We encourage you to join our #SupportSmallCheesemakers campaign and create some much-needed market exposure for our #agripreneurs. #Share their stories on social media, #comment to let them know we are #strongertogether, and most importantly #buySAcheese! (details below)!

The Kasselshoop story: The whey forward with Kasselshoop 

In 2002, the Kasselman family began crafting and curing traditional hard cheeses at Klein Soebattersvlakte, Stilbaai, the well-known holiday destination in the Southern Cape. The Kasselman family was known for their Jersey Stud that Johannes Kasselman started in 1980, registered as Kasselshoop (the hope of a Kasselman). Here, in the heart of “fynbos” country, four generations of Kasselman’s have been breeding Jersey’s known for the rich and creamy milk they produce.

Stilbaai was a natural home for the Kasselshoop cheese factory, not only for its rich limestone and fynbos vegetation, but also for the high quality, rich and creamy milk supplied by the small-herd farmers in the area. Natural farming practices are used to establish and improve pastures and great effort goes into the controlling of milk quality to ensure that only the best raw materials are used in our cheeses. The Jersey cows are exclusively raised on pasture and only get hay and minerals as supplements.

The current factory, with spacious facilities, started in the remains of a small rural school that was originally constructed for the local farm children.  Initially, we only made a small batch of cheese every second day. Today, the team of 14 people produce about 12 tonnes of cheese a month, then package and distribute it.

The personnel are all from the local community and are trained on the job. In 2008, our cheesemaker was chosen to go to France to be trained in the finer art of cheese making. Under the competent guidance of Rian Kasselman, Kasselshoop produces white and yellow cheddar, gouda and flavoured cheeses.

The team:

Jonathan Hendricks – Cheesemaker
Gerswin Jones – Cheesemaker and cold room manager
Hilton Michaels – Production assistant
Phillip Koeries – Production assistant
Daniël Pieterse – General assistant
Llewellyn Oosthuizen – Packaging assistant
Lauro Lee Slavers – Packaging manager
Rose Jahn Snyman – Packaging assistant
Mercia Francis – Assistant GMP manager
Monrico Lupini – Operations manager
Alison Esau – Administration
Nicky Franklin – Marketing and tour room manager
Karin Potgieter – Food safety coordinator

Products:

  • Gouda R99.99/kg
  • Cheddar R99.99/kg

Flavoured cheese R39.99/200g:

  • Gouda with Chilli
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Olive Cheddar
  • Nettle Cheddar
  • Pepper Thom (paprika peppers)
  • Onion Cheddar
  • Black Pepper Cheddar

Cheese packs R59.99/200g:

  • Smoked Gouda with balsamic reduction combo
  • Nettle Cheddar with cumin onion reduction combo
  • 3 cheese platter olive, nettle, pepper R62.99/300g

Where to buy:

Available at Checkers stores nationwide and selected Pick ‘n Pay and Spar outlets.

Contact them at:

028 754 2430 / 074 819 4659 or e-mail

 #CheeseChat on social media:

The story behind the story by Liesel Kasselsman:

In 2000, my husband, Kassie, moved to Klein Soebattersvlakte – the family farm, a sandy farm, where very little is growing. As a teacher, I only saw the BEAUTIFUL and the opportunities, the beautiful people, the beautiful cows, all with their own unique hairstyles and names, my two beautiful boys (5 and 2 years old them) we could raise – carefree, in the sand , on the farm and between the cows. What a blessing! Out of God’s hand.

With stars in my eyes and gratitude in my heart, our story began…. The big milk buyers started to give notice to the smaller milk farmers of the area that it was no longer worthwhile to pick up their milk. It really was a turning point for these incredible people, who make such a sincere existence with integrity (ALL the farmers in our area).

The WCED gave us notice of closure of the school on the farm, which Oupa Boet and Oom Tom built with such love for the children in the area – to give them a better future. Kassie’s eldest brother Willem (mechanical engineer) with his family started a sabbatical year in Stilbaai.

The above three facts were used by the Lord to establish a cheese factory.

Gerhard, Kassie’s other brother, with all his experience and knowledge in the dairy industry, also joined the other two brothers and together with their father, Johannes Kasselman, the four men begin the hope of a Kasselman – Kasselshoop.

The cheese was first made in the kitchen, later in a small refrigerator at home and sold out of a cool box from Willem’s boot. Four women from the area started working together later, and much later two men. Hit and run is an understatement for this project, done completely the wrong way around, because we were sure ALL the cheese would sell easily.

This did happen, but as the market began to grow, the challenges began (unskilled staff, logistical problems – too remote, direct competitors are so big, retail buyers do not talk easily to small role players and capital is scarce).

MIRACLES HAPPENED IN THOSE YEARS:

Kassie and I drove to Port Elizabeth to negotiate with a retailer to sell our cheese. With the minimum funds, we load the two boys into the bakkie and slept over with family. 10 minutes before the appointment we sat in the bakkie in front of the building and preached to the children that we will sit them down under the table with their toys and food and that they may not utter one word, when the call came through – Mr …… will not be able to see us today but only in a month’s time.

We did not have enough funds to come back in a month’s time, and we also had too much cheese to sell without a market, which of course I told the secretary. When I put the phone down we were all so stunned, and Kassie and I decided that ALL we could do now was PRAY. Kassie started to pray, and with his AMEN, the phone rang and Mr… .. invited us to come to his office immediately. God provided… both boys sat perfectly still and we got the contract.

I also remember how once we sent 11 tonnes of cheese (at that time our entire cold room) to an unknown person, all our paperwork was ready and everything humanly possible was done to ensure that the process will go smoothly. The buyer called when the cheese arrived in Johannesburg and said that the cheese was not right. He also sent photos. Upon closer examination, we determined that the cooling truck’s cooling did not work all the way. My brother-in-law and I flew up to Joburg to go and inspect. Upon arrival, the buyer took us to the cheese, of which he sent pictures, and when he cut it open there were NO problems. To this day, I can still remember the surprised faces of the buyer and my brother-in-law, Gerhard !!! The Lord provides!

My father-in-law and the two brothers brought Kasselshoop to a level where it could be self-sufficient, and when both brothers were offered good jobs, the big decision was left to me and Kassie 6 years ago whether to take over the factory or not.

With small children, and other businesses, it was difficult for me and Kassie to decide whether we could manage the cheese factory on our own, as his brothers and father are such capable people and made such a huge contribution. I remember the morning we were sitting under the tree and Kassie asked if I could walk this road, my answer was YES, but in my heart I wasn’t sure. That night I had a BRIGHT DREAM, with the brightest light shining right on the guesthouse, I woke Kassie up with the story, and he said sleepily, are you sure it wasn’t at the Cheese Factory , and then I KNEW!

At that time, we were blessed with my sister Rianda who came to the farm, also for a Sabbatical year. She runs our Jersey herd, and the one year became six years, and we know that Kassie would never be able to pay attention to the factory if she was not FULL-TIME in the milking parlor, EVERY cow matters to her and also the quality and integrity of the milk as raw material for the factory.

In the five years that followed, we never rested, but the LORD was ALWAYS there…. On Monday mornings the cattle feed must be paid, and our biggest buyer only pays on Wednesday, then on a number of occasions a buyer who only had to pay two months later will pay TOTALLY unexpectedly. The Lord has provided!

Johannes and Lawrence (our sons) slept in the bakkie, walked home from the main road in the afternoons, ALWAYS did their own homework and helped with all the other tasks. They dropped off cheese, helped out at festival, pasted stickers, mopped floors from a very young age. Many times as a mother, I felt I was failing, but today my 21 year old and 18 year old sons are the most special children and I know for sure – the Lord has provided!

We went through DEEP waters when a theft occurred, we closed the factory and prayed for six weeks, for the Lord’s will, with clear answers that we MUST go on.

Our staff of 10 at the factory, 5 at the farm and 2 at the guesthouse were sent by the Lord, I can attest to this today, with our quiet time in the morning, everyone gets a turn to read, and the support and love we all have there at Jesus’ feet, whether in person or for our daily task, is just from above. After a difficult road, with God ABSOLUTELY as the head of this factory, I once again realize with stars in my eyes and a deep gratitude in my heart that this was a blessed road and would continue to be, and I would NEVER want it differently. Jeremiah 29:11 – came true at Kasselshoop.

#SupportLocal #BuyLocal #ProudlySouthAfrican #Cheese #CheeseLover #MoreCheesePlease #BuySAcheese

#SupportSmallCheesemakers – click here to read more about all the small cheesemakers involved

 

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