Daego Albero at the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket (Photo by Maya Rader)
By Maya Rader
Daego Albero has been working for the past three months at Valley Shepherd Creamery, a 120-acre sheep farm and cheese making facility in Morris County, New Jersey. The creamery makes sausages and dairy products including cheese, butter and yogurt.
On an average day, Albero pumps milk, boils it, presses it and molds it. He also cleans dishes. “Everything has to be clean, always,” explained Albero.
One of Albero’s favorite parts of his job is working in the aging caves.
“We age the cheese in a cave because the conditions are not the same (as elsewhere),” said Albero.
Cheesemakers have been using caves for centuries because of the high humidity and cool temperature. Albero likes working in the caves because it is cooler. In other areas of the facility, Albero explained he’s “working in a cheese room that is maybe 100 degrees and really high humidity.” The heat is his least favorite part of the job.
Pablo Navas helps customers at the Stuyvesant Town market. (Photo by Kaley Pillinger)
By Kaley Pillinger
At a market saturated with crates of rainbow kale and shoppers carrying bags of Swiss chard is a singular cheese stand. But Pablo Navas of Valley Shepherd Creamery is anything but lonely at the Stuyvesant Town Farmers’ Market. Gesturing to the stalls on his left, Navas commented, “I always like to stay beside the bread. There’s a wine guy, I don’t know where he is today. But I always say: ‘Wine, bread and cheese, that’s all you need.’ That’s pretty much my dinner.”
At the Union Square Farmers’ Market, too, Navas sets up his stand next to the same bread stall, Bread Alone. Being the only cheese vendor, he’s greeted by loyal cheese-lovers every week and gets to learn about the palates of different neighborhoods. In Stuyvesant Town, mozzarella is the favorite; in Union Square, tourists and students flock to him for tastes; and at 82nd street, customers buy large blocks at a time. Navas finds that, “At 82nd, there’s a lot of old people and they love cheese.”
Navas came to the U.S. in January from Spain for an internship at Valley Shepherd Creamery in Morris County, NJ. Being at markets on weekends allows Navas to speak English, but being at the farm provides him ample opportunity to practice as well.