UW-River Falls will be back to producing ice cream and cheese curds, next spring after years of renovations of their Dairy Pilot Plant. The pilot plant is a fully licensed dairy that allows students to learn how to produce products and work towards apprenticing for their cheese makers license in between their classes. “They’re really seeing a snapshot of whatever we’re doing at the times that they’re free,” Michelle Farner, UW-River Falls Dairy Pilot Plant manager said. “So some students get really good at cleaning and sanitation, some will get the experience of actually making cheese and others become certified, pasteurizer operators.” While the plant produces most of its products for the student population through dining services, it also sells to local restaurants and stores looking to sell its products. Cheese boxes are also available for purchase during the holiday season. Renovations of the plant began 10 years ago with equipment upgrades, however, the university decided to further the renovation by expanding and upgrading the entire facility. “We had a one-room dairy plant and it was about 1500 square feet, and we’ve expanded to a little over 6,000 square feet where we have a complete separation of raw processing and finish product processing,” Farner said. With the size expansion, the facility will have the ability to triple its production capacity. Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, a collaborative partner with the university, has recently dedicated an additional $30,000 donation towards the renovations. With the additional donation, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery has invested $150,000 in the plant’s renovations and has earned a naming opportunity in the Dairy Pilot Plant. “They offer internships, scholarships for our students and they offer tours for different courses we have,” Farner said. “They have actually hired several of our students in the past.” “We have always valued our relationship with UWRF and from the initial planning stages of the dairy plant renovation, we have considered our support as a solid investment in the university, its students and our industry,” said Paul Bauer, CEO and general manager of Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery stated in a press release. “The newly renovated and state-of-the-art plant will provide students with the hands-on experience they need for a successful career, immediately.” Renovations of the Dairy Pilot Plant are expected to be completed in the spring of 2023.
UW-River Falls will be back to producing ice cream and cheese curds, next spring after years of renovations of their Dairy Pilot Plant.