Artisan Profile: Ely Farm Products Inc.Dwight Ely’s family has farmed the same land since the mid-eighteenth century, when his Quaker ancestors arrived from England. Seven generations later, Dwight, his “bride” Susan, and children, Alden, Elizabeth, and Luke, work hard to keep the 100-acre farm profitable, well-stewarded, and (judging from Dwight’s laugh) a place to enjoy. The farm, located a few hundred yards from Washington’s Crossing at the Delaware River, is surrounded by expensive housing sub-divisions. In the late 1970s, while attending college, Dwight saw many Bucks County farms disappear under the bulldozer blade and resolved to move in a different direction.
In 1980, he established a beef and pork business and soon became well known for his skills as a butcher and master of cured meats. The Elys raise hogs, handle the butchering on-site, and then cure and smoke the various cuts to perfection. At dozens of competitions, Ely smoked hams have received tops awards. To say the least, the family knows good food and how to make it.
In 1997, Dwight and Susan went to France and Switzerland, where they visited large and small cheese producers and a cheesemaking seed (or maybe a curd!) was planted. In 2006, the family went back to Europe, toured small cheesemaking companies in Abondance and Morzine, and returned inspired to start a creamery. Dwight read everything he could find, designed a cheese facility, and secured equipment, while college classmate, John Hamilton of Tennessee’s Sweetwater Valley Farm, provided friendly encouragement. In late 2006, the first batches of Ely cheese were ready for sale; public interest continues to grow. They named the seasonal, raw Jersey cow’s milk cheeses in honor of their family and the farm’s Delaware River location. Aldan’s Blessing, after Dwight’s father, is a Trappist-style washed curd, washed rind cheese with robust flavor and soft texture. Washington Crossing, aged two to three months, is a washed curd, semi-firm, smooth, nutty flavored wheel. The Makefield, recognizing the local township, is Abondance-style natural rind, firm, buttery-flavored wheel that Dwight ages eight to eighteen months. With an understanding of good food production, a formidable palate, and high standards of excellence, the prospects for a successful new enterprise look good for Dwight and Susan.
Ely Farm Products Inc.
• 401 Woodhill Road Newtown, PA 18940
• Cheesemaking established: 2006
• Visitors welcome Thursday – Friday, 9–5; Saturday, 9–2
• Telephone: 215/860-0669