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.