Samantha Rolland, is a farmer, cheesemaker based in Pralognan La Vanoise.
When I started making Beaufort cheese 20 years ago there was only one other woman doing it. The first year, all the farmers and cheese retailers came to spy on me and my cheeses. They secretly took samples of it in the cheese cellars because they didn’t believe that I knew what I was doing. My cheese was full of holes, but not because of mice. Over the past 20 years, they’ve come to realise that I really can make cheese. My life is a little crazy these days. I get up to make yoghurt at 4 am every day, before I go to get my kids ready for school, then start preparing the shop for business, then coming home to family life and starting all over again the next day. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. Our routine changes throughout the seasons, which I love. My favourite time is when one season gives way to another. One cycle finishes and another one starts, so we have a complete rebirth every few months.
I love the balance that we have in Pralognan-la-Vanoise. I can develop the company with business strategies and plans like a CEO, while staying down to earth and connected to the land, doing very basic manual work. That balance is reflected in the town itself. It is natural and untouched, yet it is a resort. That means the world comes to us, and we’re always meeting different types of people. I’m also part of the town council, which has helped me stay connected to the world, without having to live in a crowded, busy city. My children are lucky to grow up with this sense of balance. Their world is agriculture and being knitted into the fabric of a small village. But they will also grow up bilingual and open to the world. That’s a very special thing to have.
I was definitely looking for roots, which I found in the mountains.