Operation ‘Save Our Artisan Goat Cheese’ has begun

KevinDairy, From Local Farms, Smoky Valley Goat Cheese14 Comments

While taking care of production duties on the ‘From Local Farms‘ project, I learned from Holly – our regional artisan goat cheese producer slated for an episode – that their operation is facing a winter of financial-non-viability, and that they are at risk of being forced to close their doors. One of the sad, hard truths I’ve learned about while talking to farmers for my ‘From Local Farms‘ project  has been  the tenuous struggle many small producers face – especially come winter – if they can’t squeeze their way into one of the year-round markets, get off-farm  jobs, or otherwise find some way to make ends meet until the farmer’s markets re-open in May. In order to resolve this problem, Smoky Valley Goat Cheese is making the shift to a CSA [community supported agriculture] model where folks buy a share of production, and periodically pick up their share of what the farm produces – throughout the year. Common with vegetable farming, it has  also proven to be a successful model in the goat dairy business in Canada. A CSA approach can give the farmer more predictable year-round revenue, reduce waste by making use of all their product line on an ongoing basis, and on the consumer end makes you more deeply connected to the people and places behind our food – all while assuring the survival of the artisan producer in our rather disjointed food system. I feel that I already buy this way when it comes to meats, buying whole animals from small producers every year, so this model for cheese makes equal practical sense for me. And no butchering required!

In an effort to help them make this work, I’ve embarked upon what my wife and I are calling ‘Operation Save Our Artisan Goat Cheese‘. I’m going to be redesigning their website, hosting a tasting this weekend involving food writers, cooks, and critics in order to develop thorough tasting notes & recipe ideas, promoting their CSA program, and generally helping in any way I can to help save their important contribution to our regional food scene. We desperately need more producers like these folks, not fewer.

Their From Local Farms‘ episode is being shot Friday, and I’ll get it up as soon as I can. I’ll have details about their CSA program on their new website asap. In the meantime, if you value our local artisan producers, give some thought to getting involved in their CSA program. I’m in.

14 Comments on “Operation ‘Save Our Artisan Goat Cheese’ has begun”

  1. Mel

    A CSA program sounds absolutely fantastic. I’m really looking forward to the tasting on Saturday. Here’s hoping Smoky Valley – and the rest of our local farms – are able to pull through the long, cold winter.

  2. A Canadian Foodie

    One project usually does lead to another. What a great champion they have found in you, Kevin! Great project. One thing that would help them is to offer tastings at their booth. Money spent there would be better than money spent on paper brochures, don’t you think?

  3. Kevin

    Mel – indeed.
    Val – Agreed. Tastings at the booth are a good idea, especially given the propensity to drown in product in danger of overripening, for ex.

  4. Karlynn

    I am incredibly sad to miss Saturday and am looking forward to reading all about it. A website revamp is a good idea, the niche of people that are most likely to support local food producers is also the group that are most comfortable using the internet to access information and make purchasing decisions based on what they find online.

    I can’t wait to see what come out of your tasting!

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  6. Lea

    I am out of town this weekend, but this is something I’m very interested in! Would love to support local producers and goat cheese = yum yum.

  7. Susan Hrycun

    Larry and Holly Gale have invested alot of themselves into this farm. Their products are second to none. Their Tomato garlic chevre is purely addictive! I hope this new initiative takes a foot hold as there are so few local producers making goat cheese.

  8. Kevin

    Karlynn – agreed re: the website. Should be polished up and pretty within the week!
    Lea – I’ll be posting details about their CSA soon!!
    Susan – Well said.

  9. Mary Ellen Grueneberg

    So glad you are doing this to help save their farm.
    Many of us have a difficult time during the winters without year round sales.
    CSA’s sure help, but are not the whole answer.
    It would be great if all of you who are interested would see your MP’s and MLA’s and let them know that local food is important and that they need to be financed appropriately.
    The main problem is access to appropriate financing. Smoky Valley, like Greens Eggs & Ham, is a small land base (10acre) non traditional farm that sells through direct marketing. These are all looked at unfavorably in the present lending policies of ALL banks, credit uniions & agricultural lenders. Check our how people in the US are helping this out http://www.slowmoneyalliance.org.
    We really need something like this before we lose more farms!

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