The cheese in the “Farm to Campus” program


David Quintanilla/ Bowling Green High School

Creamery Technician Nikki Roof lifts a cheese press while preparing a batch of cheddar cheese at the Hilltopper Creamery on June 8.

In the “Farm to Campus” program at the WKU Farm, one of the best known aspects is the creation of cheese for the Hilltopper Creamery.
The Hilltopper Creamery is not only a creamery but also a research lab dedicated to the creation of dairy products, according to Nikki Roof, the creamery technician. She said the experimentation of cheese and methods of cheese creation helps to educate people on how dairy products are made.
The Hilltopper Creamery plays a minor role in the wider “Farm to Campus” program, which is a program that promotes agricultural education and creates a system where products made on the WKU Farm are sent to the main campus.
The creamery also sells its various cheeses as well as cheese products, meats from animals raised on the farm and produce grown at the farm.
It also provides cheeses to the main campus at certain events.
Roof said they do tests on cheese creation. They primarily test with curds, where they mix them with various ingredients and create them in different ways, testing to see what is of high quality and what isn’t. They experiment with mixing in ingredients such as peppers and spices to create different varieties of cheese.

Creamery Technician Nikki Roof explains how the WKU creamery operates. Exposure students visited the creamery to learn more about the farm to campus program on June 6. (Photo By Anna Bell Lee/ Texas High School)

In addition, there are other employees who work in maintaining the creamery. These mostly consist of scientists, farmers, cheesemakers and clerks for the stores. There are also students who come to study the creation of various dairy products.
Roof said cheese is created when milk, after a significant amount of time, begins to curdle into two substances known as curds and whey. Sometimes the curds and whey are processed as is, but they usually drain the whey and press the curds into a specific shape.
Depending on the cheese they are making, they are mixed with other ingredients, molded in a different way, or sometimes kept as is. Afterward, the cheese is cut into blocks and locked in a cheese room, where they are kept to age for weeks, months or, for some varieties, years. After this, the cheese can be consumed.
The Hilltopper Creamery is a part of the wider dairy section of the WKU farm, where students can conduct research as well as produce products that can be shared with the campus and people in the community.