February 24, 2014

A New Way to Crowd-Fund Kosher: Turning an Award-Winning Cheddar Kosher

Founded in 2009, Kickstarter is an online platform for crowd-funding, everything from film projects to new clothing lines. Hopeful entrepreneurs create a page explaining their idea and why people should fund it. Investors donate varying amounts and are promised varying levels of products in return. If the fundraising goal is not met within a certain amount of time, everyone gets their money refunded. It’s a relatively risk-free way to fund or launch a new business idea, and it has helped start over 50,000 projects in the last 5 years. And now, one ambitious cheese-lover is hoping Kickstarter will be the answer to turning an award-winning aged cheddar Kosher.

Mark Bodzi, or “Muncle Ark,” the man behind the Kickstarter page, has not been able to find a truly authentic, kosher aged-cheddar on the market. In a logical yet passionate video, he outlines his desperation in filling the “cheese gap” he has been experiencing since beginning to keep kosher. After many unfruitful searches, he decided that the best way to get what he wants is to create it. Bodzin then set out to find a dairy farm willing to do kosher runs on their equipment. After much effort, he located Shelburne Farms, located in Shelburne, Vermont. 

Bodzin’s passion for the project is evident in his plea to supporters. He explains:  “Shelburne Farms is a non-profit education center that includes a 1,400-acre working farm and farmstead cheese operation. They make award-winning cheddar from their single herd of Brown Swiss cows at their Certified Humane, grass-based dairy… If we are successful in finding enough backers, the farm will clean out their cheese making facility to prepare it for a kosher run, make our batch using a special microbial (vegetarian) rennet under the inspection of the Vaad Harabonim of Massachusetts, age it to perfection, then ship it promptly to your doorstep.”

As of this writing, Mr. Bodzin and 125 backers have raised $6,429 of his $16,000 goal, with 31 days to go. Supporters can pledge anything from $1 to $600, and receive anywhere from 1 to 40 pounds of aged Farmhouse cheddar shipped to their door- if the fundraising goal is met. Supervised by the Vaad Harabonim of Massachusetts, the cheese will not be cholov yisroel or kosher for Passover. Still, Bodzin is certain there are others out there like him, craving that perfect bite of kosher aged cheddar.