Marieke Gouda Wins Entrepreneur of the Year Award
11 Apr 2023
Marieke Gouda has won Momentum West’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award for their outstanding contribution to the business community in West Central Wisconsin. “We were pleased to present this award to Marieke Gouda. In addition to producing the finest Gouda in the U.S., the company is passionate about animals, people and the environment - a true partner in our region,” said Steve Jahn, Executive Director of Momentum West.
Marieke Gouda is a dynamic fast growing business that connects what matters, people, food, animals and planet, through Gouda. The cheese is made with fresh milk from cows on their farm in Thorp, Wisconsin. “We use traditional Dutch cheese making processes and do not pasteurize or process our Gouda. Instead, we age it for at least 60 days to be as fresh and clean as possible,” said owner Marieke Penterman.
In addition to selling cheese, Marieke has opened a cafe that features dishes made using their signature Gouda. Dishes like the Classic Gouda Burger, Gouda Queso, Grilled Gouda, and Gouda Mac & Cheese attract visitors from throughout Wisconsin. The success of Marieke Gouda is a dream come true for Marieke who grew up on her family’s 60-cow dairy farm in the Netherlands. “I remember being caught up in the magic of cows and milk, where nothing is more nutritional than milk, nothing can transform into so many valuable products that are also so heavenly tasteful,” she said. After moving to the United States to be with her husband, she missed the taste of the cheese she grew up eating and became determined to bring Dutch cheesemaking practices to her new home. “The U.S. is really still the land of opportunity” and West Central Wisconsin was the perfect place for the Penterman’s to build their business.
In Clark County, Wisconsin, the Penterman Farm is home to 400 happy cows. The flat landscape and climate are ideal for dairy farming and the community has a reputation nationwide for producing some of the best cheese, butter, and milk. “If you want good milk and good dairy, where else would you go?” Penterman said. “Wisconsin was the best choice and Thorp is right in the heart of it. Farmers are really celebrated here.” That’s certainly a true statement and one of the reasons why Momentum West chose Marieke Gouda for this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. “Marieke has taken a family dairy farm and created a thriving company that produces the highest quality cheese, but also an experience. You can go to the cafe and eat true farm-to-table food that’s been made with the finest Gouda. It’s an amazing way to enjoy our region of Wisconsin,” said Jahn.
Marieke added that “We appreciate the midwest mentality towards dairy farmers. They recognize what is important and support us. The Momentum West region has given us opportunities that we did not have in our home country and we are very grateful and want to pay this forward in our current and future endeavors. Plus people know what good food and beer is!” In West Central Wisconsin, people understand that dairy farmers are the reason people have the most nutritious and delicious food on table. “We love our cows and what we are doing. The support the community gives us is so appreciated.”
When asked what motivates her, owner Marieke said, “To not regret the opportunity, to make a difference, to make the things you do count towards a better community. If you can help, grow, inspire the people around you, it will pay forward.” She added, “I believe in focussing on the good and in creating better life circumstances. Life is not meant to feel like surviving, but for thriving with a purpose such as helping each other and those that are in need. I feel that we can make a mark, help others through Gouda and let’s be honest everybody could use a bit more Gouda in their life. So it is because of the people, planet and animals, that I love what I’m doing and that we want to continue to grow, innovate and seek new opportunities.”
Community members can help to create opportunities for Marieke Gouda and other local businesses by looking for their products in stores and restaurants. “If you don’t see Marieke Gouda - ask for it and they will be more likely to carry our products,” said Marieke. “We can make a difference to better each other, through Gouda, pretty cheesy but I believe 100% that this is possible and I will continue working until it’s proven.”
Learn more about Marieke Gouda on their website or this Wisconsin article.