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Ont. backs cheesemaker for wash water treatment

A southeastern Ontario cheesemaker billed as the oldest in Canada has picked up public funding for a new system to reuse some of its waste water.

Ivanhoe Cheese Co., which was launched in 1870 as a dairy farmers’ co-op at Ivanhoe, about 25 km north of Belleville, will get up to $377,000 from the province’s rural economic development program for the project.

“With this investment, we can continue making quality local cheeses, help protect the environment and support our sustainability initiatives,” Gay Lea Foods, the major dairy co-op that bought Ivanhoe in 2008, said in a statement in the province’s release Wednesday.

With the new wash water system, Ivanhoe will be able to treat and reuse a portion of the waste water normally spread on fields during the summer months. The treatment system will separate out solid materials for use at a nearby energy generating station, the province said.

Billed as the largest of the “small” rural cheese manufacturing plants in eastern Ontario, with 93 employees, Ivanhoe operated as a co-op until 1987, when it privatized and launched a major expansion into a wider variety of cheeses and new marketing initiatives.

More recently, the company said, it’s diversified into a number of different processed cheese items and a “comprehensive range” of cheese sauces.

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