Anna Cantelmo, the wife of farmer Andre Cantelmo (co-owner of Heron Pond Farm) and mother of two, has recently gained the title of entrepreneur for her cheesemaking business, Bell & Goose Cheese Company. Based out of a small studio on her own property in South Hampton, NH, Anna makes a variety of cheeses including Camembert, Alpine-style, and Tomme. All of the milk she uses comes from Bodwell Farm in Kensington, NH. She sells these products at the Heron Pond Farm Stand at the Exeter, Portsmouth, and Copley Square farmers’ markets, and through the Three River Farmer’s Alliance.
The name Bell & Goose stems directly from the names of her children, a daughter Bell and a son Gus, affectionately called “Goose” by family and friends. Her love for cheesemaking, however, developed before either of her children were born. Anna worked for a cheesemonger at Savenor’s Market in Boston about fourteen years ago, and fell in love with the practice. She has had her own herd of goats, she spent some time as the cheesemaker at Appleton Farms (Ipswich, MA), and was able to start a business of her own about a year ago.
As an advocate for female entrepreneurship, Anna credits the design work for Bell & Goose to Kelsy Stromski, who owns Refinery 43 (a boutique brand and design studio) in Newburyport, MA. She receives assistance from her mother and stepfather, and moral support from her husband, but Bell & Goose is first and foremost Anna’s venture; a dream that turned into reality.
One of the most fascinating aspects of cheesemaking for Anna is the science behind aging. She makes both fresh and aged cheese; the aged cheese is set up in a “cheese chamber” as she calls it, which has a dome-like shape to deflect the Ammonium that is released from the cheese during this process. Her favorite cheese to eat is Camembert, although it is one of the most difficult to make.
While I was visiting with Anna at Bell and Goose, I had the opportunity to sneak in a few questions about the impact that Seacoast Eat Local has had on their businesses, especially in respect to the food access work that Seacoast Eat Local engages in. Both Anna and her husband Andre Cantelmo (who owns and operates Heron Pond Farm) have seen the positive effects that participating in Seacoast Eat Local’s SNAP Acceptance program has had on their businesses, as well as the community itself. Bell & Goose and Heron Pond Farm have sales that are directly due to SNAP customer access, and it is reversing the stigma that local food is accessible only to the very wealthy. “You never want someone to feel like they cannot afford your food,” stated Anna in her interview. “Farmers just want to feed people… the whole community, for everybody, in whichever way makes that possible. Farmers don’t have the time to figure out these programs or systems or do it on our own (speaking about SNAP Acceptance programs), so to have an organization that has figured it out for us, and we just sign onto it is so so nice.”