In 1903, Hiram and Grace Potter set down roots in Charlevoix, Michigan to raise their family of twelve children.
Just under a mile away, also in 1903, Edward and Grace Boss found land to settle on with their family of six children.
Both the Potter and Boss families originated in the Netherlands, and the strong Dutch work ethic continues through the generations. Living in times of scarcity and through the Great Depression, the families each had a small farm to feed their families.
As time continued, Richard (son of Hiram and Grace) and Christine Klooster Potter bought a nearby farm in 1934. Richard and his son, Robert, began to grow the farm by raising vegetables for the local canning factory and expanded into raising turkeys for eggs and meat in the 1940s. Robert (Bob) married MaeZella (Mazie) Shaw and added dairy cattle while raising their six daughters, one of whom is Judy. This location is where the main dairy operations of Boss Dairy Farms and Charlevoix Cheese Company are located today.
On the Boss homestead, Edward and Grace passed on the farm to their son Lawrence who together with wife Jeanette DeYoung Boss raised animals and an abundant garden with their three children, one of whom is Wilson (Bud).
These two families were joined by the marriage of Judy Potter and Bud Boss in 1977. Today, Hiram’s great-granddaughter Judy Potter Boss and husband Bud live in the original Potter farmhouse on Potter Road. Although it no longer has the original straw-filled mattresses of those early years, the expanded farmhouse features beams and a fireplace mantel from the original barn.
Over the past four decades, Bud and Judy have worked tirelessly and combined the farms into the present operation, encompassing 900 acres and 250 milking cows. Since 1991, the farm has been known as Boss Dairy Farms. Bud has continuously researched optimum farming practices and incorporated them through the years, adding an automated milking parlor, state-of-the-art animal husbandry, sophisticated building designs, and soil-saving crop techniques.
In 2012, Bud and Judy’s daughter, Amanda (Mandy), returned back to the family farm with her husband Matt Thompson.
As fourth generation owners of the 230-cow Centennial Farm, Matt and Mandy love farming and want to ensure sustainability for future generations, including their four children, Caiden, Harvey, Mazie and Milo in a volatile dairy industry. After in-depth research into value-added markets, the decision was made to produce farmstead artisan cheese, and Charlevoix Cheese Company was born.
A true farm-to-product system, the cheese is made with milk exclusively from the herd of Holstein cattle. Milk is pumped from the milk tank via a pipeline, elevated over fourteen feet in the air, directly into the pasteurizer and cheese vat to begin making cheese. Each step of the process builds upon fertile soil, planting and harvesting corn and hay to feed the cows, milking healthy cows in a high-tech setting, and results in production of Grade A milk to make the artisanal cheese. Charlevoix Cheese Company’s goal is to offer the highest possible quality end product. We take milk from the cow to cheese in just eight hours – it doesn’t get much fresher than that!