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Cheese maker taking unique approach to answering high demand for his cheese

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - A growing central Arkansas business is taking a unique approach to a growing demand for their product.  Artisan cheese maker, Kent Walker, is taking on volunteers to help fabricate the young company's fromage – and there's already a waiting list to help out.

Making cheese isn't easy, especially when there's only one person doing it.  Kent Walker of Kent Walker Artisan Cheese says he's stretched thin trying to sell his product and keep up with demand at the same time.

"We're in probably about 50 restaurants and probably 20 retail places," said Walker.

It's a "gouda" start for the two and a half year-old business currently based out of a small room in a Little Rock warehouse.  Walker ended up hiring his friend Randy to help out with cheese making, but some things require the help of more than just two.

"The actual act of cheese making, the day one, the production before it goes into the aging room, there are a few key points during the day – namely getting curds out of the vat and into the molds that's very labor intensive," said Walker. 

Those labor intensive moments are the reason for Walker creating his volunteer program. 

Walker said even though moving curds into molds requires a lot of work, it's only for a short period of time.  So Walker only brings volunteers on during the times he actually needs them.

Interested cheeseheads can sign up to volunteer through the company's website.  They're placed on a mailing list to receive an e-mail blast requesting the service of volunteers when it's needed.  Walker said he's already seen interest from about 120 people.

The best part about volunteering – the pay – it's cheese compensation.

"One of [the volunteers] stayed all day," said Walker.  "So he went home with quite a bit."

There's no set amount of cheese volunteers walk home with, but Walker said generally workers make out with at least a quarter pound of cheese.  Just like an internship, employment isn't guaranteed from volunteering with Walker.  But Walker says it might not be a bad idea to learn the trade.

"The goal is to be absolutely a regional presence and even one day a national presence," said Walker.

Walker is already talking expansion.  Come April he'll be opening his own retail outlet on Main Street in downtown Little Rock.