Our Short History
HOW WE STARTED MAKING OUR AWARD-WINNING CHEESE
Back in the fall of 2012, Deeann and Jackie decided to try to make cheese for the first time. They had been making beer and wine together for a few years, and were ready for a new challenge. Jackie had also married a Dairy Farmer, so she had a fresh supply of great milk.
The first cheese we made was a quick mozzarella. We thought it was great at first, but an hour later we realized it was a flavorless cross between mozzarella and “the blob.”
We decided to try again, but this time we used cheddar cheese cultures and a recipe we got from a local beer making supply store which also sold some simple cheese making ingredients. This time, it looked, felt, smelled, and tasted like cheese! We thought we’d keep trying, and it just got better!
We liked our cheese so much that we thought we could start to sell it. Our friends and family seemed to really like it, so why wouldn’t everyone else? We knew we needed the help of a dairy expert, so we asked our friend, Kathy, if she’d like to join our venture. I don’t think we got the question out completely before she said yes. She grew up on a dairy farm, used to have her own herd, and has a degree and animal husbandry.
With the 3 of us ready to go, we really began researching what we needed in order to make this a successful business.
We visited numerous cheese plants in Minnesota and Wisconsin, asking questions of anyone we could. We joined the American Cheese Society. We took courses to learn as much as possible. We found contractors who helped us develop business plans and write grant proposals.
In the Fall of 2015, Jackie got a message from Dave Maroney, the Director of Economic Development and Planning for Cannon Falls, MN. He had heard we were looking for a home, and asked us to come meet with him. We did, and loved what we heard. Thus was born our relationship with our new hometown, Cannon Falls.
The story doesn’t end, it just continues. So many exciting things are happening for us. We hope you keep visiting our site to see what new things are happening and where you can find our cheese. We can’t wait to share our locally-made, family-friendly, artisan cheeses with you!
Meet the Owners of CannonBelles
Deeann Lufkin is a retired Air Force Reserve Weather Officer, where her last assignment was with the Hurricane Hunters. She had her dream job, and now she is following her passion: CHEESE! She has been a lover of cheese her whole life, and hasn’t met a cheese she doesn’t like! Deeann has attended the University of Wisconsin - River Falls Cheesemaker Short Course, is a member of the American Cheese Society, on the Board of the League of Minnesota Cheesemakers, and active in many other state and local food groups. Her science background and continuous education help in her duties as our head cheesemaker.
Kathy Hupf is passionate about the dairy industry and entrepreneurship. She has spent most of her life working and living on a dairy farm, managing her own herd of cows for 18 years and has a clear sense of what it takes to run a successful business. She brings a strong work ethic, knowledge of the dairy business, and a network of people in the dairy industry to the team. Currently she is the Children and Family Ministries Coordinator at a Methodist church and oversees programming for approximately 160 children and their families. She has experience with marketing, organizing, and managing staff. She is thrilled to return to the dairy industry in this new and exciting cheese business and to be an integral part of growing and promoting the local foods market in the Cannon Falls area.
Jackie Ohmann comes from a ministry background where she served as a Director of Christian Education for 15 years before jumping into the entrepreneurial world. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs so this was in her blood to start her own business. She’s married to a dairy farmer which led her into the dairy world. She is an avid lover of all things cheesy and enjoys finding new ways to incorporate CannonBelles cheese into cooking. She also loves to do events with her daughter Grace as she teaches her the business.