Women of Slauharad empower local cheese-making business

It is difficult to imagine our life without cheese. This product is an essential component of many national cuisines across the globe. Cheese is more than just a dairy product or a key ingredient for many dishes, it is more an integral part of local traditions and customs.

As it turned out Slauharad district is a home for about 50 varieties of cheese. And it was here where several women, local farmers and cookery masters, united to produce “craft” cheeses.

Prior to establishing the local brand “Syrnaja Laŭka (Cheese Shop)”, the production of cheese was home-based

During 10 years of its existence an informal women’s’ “cheesemakers” association collected recipes for all over the region and established small cheese-production businesses on the basis of local farmsteads.

“Syrnaja Laŭka (Cheese Shop)” at the ‘UN 70’ fair in Mahilioŭ, Oct 2015

Over the last years, cheesemakers have begun marshaling financial resources of the European Union to establish a local center for home cheese production.

Opening a “Cheese Shop” at Slauharad’s town market has boosted the success of the endeavor. Nice premises with a separate entrance and colorful signboard is the holiest place for the local cheesemakers.

“Cheese Shop” initiative at the festival — fair in Slaŭharad
Halina Taran in her new ‘Cheese Shop (Syrnaja Laŭka)’, the main initiator and coordinator of the ‘Public Center for the Home Cheese-making ‘Cheese Shop’’’ and a specialist of ‘Vozrozhdenie Agro’ Foundation for the rural areas development

However, making cheese is not the only trade of the Slauharad craftswomen. The masters organise workshops where they teach locals and tourists how to make home-cheese.

Cheese routes and destinations that feature trips to local farmsteads where cheese is crafted following grand-grandmothers’ recipes. This is another trade of the regional cheesemakers that tourists find to be very attractive.

Tasting of cheese produced by the Slaŭharad Public Center for the Home Cheese-making

Apart from this, the Slauharad cheesemakers are mastering an amazing local brand, so-called “People’s Choice Brand”. This method features selection of the most delicious and high-quality cheese products. Cheesemakers conduct taste-offs and choose the best products that then receive a quality mark — a bright sticker that often predetermines consumers’ preferences.

‘Haspadarčy Syr’ (Master’s Cheese) folk brand

The Slauharad cheesemakers managed not only to keep grandmothers’ cheese-making recipes, but also preserve authentic cheese making technologies and appliances including, wooden churn, barrel to ferment milk during the Lenten season, pitchers, tongs, rocker arms, a sickle. All these tools are exhibited in the “Cheese Small Shop” as a small local lore exhibition.

A new exhibit item at the “Syrnaja Laŭka (Cheese Shop)” — an old churn

The “Cheese Shop” initiative is funded by the European Union as a part of the 1st EU-UNDP Contest of local initiatives of the project “Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus”.