Liz and Dale Long’s Humble Seedz make good ‘cheeze’

August 23, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

The cream “cheeze” from Humble Seedz is the surprising product of an interesting story. 

“We’ve only been in business for a year,” said Liz Long in a conversation about the company she and her husband, Dale, have established. 

“Our first event was in June last year at the -Caledon Day Festival – craft breweries, local spirits, food. Saturday is the festival in June. We did it last year to launch our business to the market.

“We did the Farmers’ Market [in Orangeville] last year from the second weekend of August to the end of the season. We opted not to do the farmers’ market – we do a lot of veg fests but Sobeys and Harmony carry our brand – we just signed on with a national distributors to see our food. Currently, we are working on selling our products ourselves to 45 different stores across Ontario. The distributor is country-wide.

“Our first store we ever sold to was the Foodland in Caledon East. Some people at the Caledon Day Festival suggested that we approach them. We dropped off samples. Donni called us in and we met Donni and Kurk and they are wonderful people. Foodland is independently owned and Foodland loves local. They actually started a meeting with us and the district manager was there and we’re disturbing to most of the Foodlands in the region.

“Shortly after that, we were in Sobeys, Orangeville, last Thanksgiving and Harmony [Whole Foods Market] within days.”

The story of Humble Seedz? “We have been dong this on our own. We started selling it; people love the product.

“We got a certified kitchen in Amaranth for production. At that point, Dale spent two to three days a week doing production. The volume has been slow moving – slow growth – on purpose. Now we have a distributor, it could be well over 200 stores, we don’t know.

“My cousin’s wife works with us as well now, doing whatever needs to be done.”

They started with a kitchen but their big news is their new facility: “We have our own dedicated space now. a facility, certified production room by the health board, an office for administration. 

“Just on driving, my husband is saving nine to ten hours a week by having everything in the same place.”

This is not set up for visitors or selling to the public.

“Our goal is to make a high quality product to sell to stores across the province and now the country,” Liz Long told the Citizen.

The Longs have two children, daughters aged 10 and 13: Erica and Olivia. 

Ms. Long went on to tell us, “We teach our children the benefits of work, dedication and a drive for passion. They do the veg fests. They come with us and help and do labelling. Erica, she’s my number one sales rep. Olivia would rather be a behind the scenes person while the 10-year-old likes to be front and centre and socialize.” 

“Dale was a cheese maker and we both worked at Woolwich.

“We picked sunflower seeds [to make their cheeze] because they’re grown here in Canada and we wanted to support Canadian farmers. Dale was born and raised in Orangeville. Both our families lived in Grand Valley. We’ve been married 21 years.”

Their ambitions are in line with their product: “Our goal is build our own factory in the area, that is self-sufficient with solar panels, re-using water as we can. Off the grid as much as possible.”

“Sunflower is as indigenous to our country as the maple leaf. It is GMO free.

“All our products are that: GMO, soy, gluten, nut free; we’re the only the only vegan cheese that is soy ands nut free.” 

This has been, “Literally, this is the first week of production in our new facility. An overnight success? Yes but it was a very long night.”

She told us, “Most of my life, my family started a cheese business. I learned a lot about the cheese business: managing sales, learning all aspects of the business end of the product. My husband was in the cheese business for 20 years, making cheese.

“There are so many details. Dale and I are doing all the business end of the business. My cousin’s wife is full time. She does everything now, a lot of everything.” 

Briefly, “My family started a company 1987. They turned a two-car garage into a cheese factory, a goat cheese business. Back in the Azores, where they came from, the family had cows and goats and they made cheese there too. So, when they came to Canada, my mother had to have goats. My name is actually Lisabete – Portuguese for Elizabeth.” 

“My brother, who’s 14 years older than me, when he got married, they came to Grand Valley as well. It was my sister-in-law’s idea for my brother to start the business, using our mother’s recipe.”

They later sold the business but with Ms. Long’s intense involvement in the industry, “this helped me get to where I am today.”

Strangely enough, when her brother developed heart problems, he decided to go completely vegan and his heart problems went away.

“When my brother became vegan, we wanted to make a cheese for him and we knew how it should taste.”

Essentially, the brother was the impetus for the next generation of Liz and Dale Long’s cheese-making.

“Eventually,” Ms. Long continued, “we want to branch out in other kinds or other flavours but, right now, we’re a locally known company and we want to be a nationally known company and we have a long way to go. We do three flavours; we take others to festivals just to try them. However, there are no preservatives, no additives, no junk – the core purpose of our company is, it’s something we can be proud to give our children. “It’ll be more of an impact once we can put a nut-free label on our product.

“Vegan parents have the problem that vegan cheese is usually made with cashews.”

She went on to assure us, “There is no soy or milk in this either. It’s 100% vegan.

“We’re proud to be here locally. Our goal is to produce a high quality, nutritious product not only for our family but for others with more of a sustainable way of doing it. We’ve made a heck of a job on the planet. You look forward to see what have you done for the planet, for me to show my daughters that you can be a business person and be a mom -you just have to work.

“We still make sure that we make the kids a priority. They are only part of the business if they want to be in the business. I wanted my kids to be proud. I want my kids to be part of their own passion. It’s all about balance.” 

She talked a bit about how they make their cheeze (“we call it that because dairy farmers started to get upset about our using ‘cheese’ for a vegan product.”)

“We culture our products with a  vegan strain of bacterial culture. Cultured really means Fermented, which is why it gives the product  a Cheeze flavour. Our method is closer to that of traditional cheesemaking technique using science instead of using a natural fermentation process.”

Then, really, she summed it up, “We’re so careful with our product. You don’t need any junk in your product – that’s why ours  is as clean as it is. Because you don’t have to have all that rest of it.”

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