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Building truly sustainable farming! More sheep = more sheep milk = more farm-made sheep cheese! Build the Barns, Grow the Flock!
Building truly sustainable farming! More sheep = more sheep milk = more farm-made sheep cheese! Build the Barns, Grow the Flock!
566 backers pledged $64,850 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$64,850

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At Shepherd’s Way Farms, we raise sheep, milk sheep, and make their milk into award-winning cheese. Our family (Shepherd Steven, Cheesemaker Jodi, and our four boys) has been raising sheep since 1994 and making cheese since 1998. But, we need to make more cheese, enough to make ends meet, to make the farm truly sustainable. It is time to make more cheese!

photo courtesy of Nichole Day Diggins, Redoux Home
photo courtesy of Nichole Day Diggins, Redoux Home

But to do that, we need more sheep milk. And to produce more milk, we need more sheep – and those sheep need a warm home.

Please help us build the sheep barns so we can grow the flock and make more cheese! With your help, we can finish the repurposed lambing barn in time for this season's lambs and begin rebuilding the ewe (mama sheep) barn. With you, we can be an example of sustainable, small family farming that works!

photo courtesy of Whitney McChane
photo courtesy of Whitney McChane

What do you get?

Check out the rewards! We’ve gathered some of our favorites for you – Spring Fling farm party, beautiful lamb notecards, private farm events, cheese tasting parties, t-shirts, and of course, our artisan sheep milk cheese! 

Cheese=Parties! So we're bringing you the cheese at some of the most happening Twin Cities locations! We're so grateful to our food community friends for helping us put together these cool rewards!

Can't make it to the Twin Cities? We can send you some lamb love with our notecards, a limited edition farm poster, or you can 'adopt' a lamb and we'll send a lamb photo and more!

How We Got Here

Neither of us grew up on a farm, and we both had other careers (writer/editor and teacher) but we wanted a different way of living. We chose farming because we wanted a family-centered way of life that allowed for creativity and a dedication to the land, the animals and, well, hard work. And we got it!

We're lucky to be part of the whole food microsystem-- raising pasture-based sheep, whey-fed pigs, chickens; milking, making cheese, connecting with our customers & community. Living where we work, immersed in the rhythms of farm life, grounds us and inspires us.

Like many farms, we’ve faced a lot of challenges – some of them bigger than others. A fire in 2005 set us back significantly. We lost all of our animal housing (a big sheep barn and a warm lamb barn), our lambs, and more than half of our milk-producing flock.

With fewer ewes we had much less milk. We made significantly less cheese and cut back to absolute basic necessities. It was a tough stretch but we made it through, thanks to the kindness and encouragement of so many people committed to sustainable farming and artisan cheese.

In 2010, we formed a Slow Money investment group, Farm Haven. With the generous support of these dedicated private individuals we were able to relaunch our cheesemaking. By 2011 we started increasing cheese production, slowly re-entering the bigger marketplace.

Now it is time to grow, take another step forward! We have many pieces in place already. This year we were awarded a USDA Value Added Producer Grant to help expand cheese production and our wool products & specialty meats. To increase cheesemaking, our flock must grow to provide more milk. But our USDA grant only applies to things we produce -- it can't be used for farm buildings or animals. So, we are turning to the Kickstarter community!

Why Kickstarter?  

Farming is a complex business, especially when value-added aspects like cheesemaking, specialty meats and wool products are included.  Increasing production for one part of the farm often requires the other parts to grow at the same time. Increasing our flock is a big, and expensive, but necessary step toward being truly sustainable. Kickstarter is one part of this step. Kickstarter offers us a unique way to connect with those who care about what we do, enjoy our products and want to see us thrive.  With you and Kickstarter, we can grow our farm and grow our farmfriends community!                                                                               

All About the Barns

Our sheep spend lots of time outdoors, even in the winter if they choose, but in our blustery winters they need a warm, safe shelter. The space we’ve used the last few years can’t hold very many sheep.         

Without enough winter sheep housing, we've had to keep our flock smaller (about ¼ the original, necessary number of sheep). But, with such a small number of sheep we can only produce a limited amount of cheese. To get ready to grow, we needed to replace the barns lost in the fire.

Finishing the Lambing Barn 

We’re already part way there! We took an unusual approach to replacing the lamb barn. In 2007 we moved the historic Big Woods Dairy Barn (the top half) four miles to our farm. Not only does saving this classic barn replace the lamb barn, it also preserves local history.

In 2013 we finally added support walls and enclosed the building. But, it still needs a new roof, electricity, a warming room, and a few other details that will help us care for the lambs and moms. It is almost ready for winter and with you, we can get it ready for lambing!

Ewe Barn

The original ewe barn was perpendicular to our milking parlor barn and was a bright, airy but warm-in-winter shelter. We’ll begin rebuilding the ewes a 60 ft x 80 ft Lester-style building on the same site, which will provide an open, inviting haven from the elements. The barn will be funded partially with more traditional financing, along with support from our CSA memberships and product sales. With your help, the funds raised here will allow construction to get underway now!

Our Cheese

We make every wheel of our artisan sheep cheese by hand on the farm. Rich, creamy sheep milk is perfect for farm-made artisan cheese. Our sheep milk cheeses are made in several styles – aged, natural rind; fresh; blue; soft-ripened bloomy rind, -- including Big Woods Blue, Friesago, Hidden Falls, Shepherd’s Hope, Burr Oak, Morcella and Shepherd’s Whey Ricotta. Many of our cheeses are multiple American Cheese Society award winners! And, other cheeses are in development -- once we have more milk, we can make more cheese, and new cheeses!

You can find our cheeses locally at Twin Cities farmers markets and at Minnesota cheese shops, co-ops, specialty grocery stores and restaurants. It is also available nationally in limited quantities. With more milk, we will be able to make cheese for more folks!

Going Forward!

To take this step, we must raise the full amount. One dollar short, and it just won't work. We think you'll love the rewards! Join us as a Farm Backer and please share our story on Facebook, Twitter & email.

This is an amazing community – those who love sheep, farming, and good food – we’re lucky to have been included and supported by so many. We love sharing what we do. And we can’t imagine doing anything else quite as rewarding. Thank you for joining us!

photo courtesy of Becca Dilley, Heavy Table
photo courtesy of Becca Dilley, Heavy Table

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Some fun coverage about Shepherd's Way! Thank you for all the support!:

On the Radio w/ Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl Off the Menu

Shepherd's Way Farms Launches a Kickstarter MN Monthly

Farm In the Lens: Shepherd’s Way Farms     Heavy Table

Shepherd’s Way:     Mpls/St Paul Magazine

Finding Minnesota: Award Winning Cheese at Shepherd’s Way  WCCO/CBS Minnesota

Big Woods Blue, Small Supply is Worth the Hunt San Francisco Chronicle               

Food Artist of the Year        City Pages

_________________________________________________

With thanks and recognition of beautiful & generous work for Shepherd's Way Farms Kickstarter -- Rob Perez, filmmaker. Robb Long, iconic Shepherd photo. Thank you!

Risks and challenges

Every venture has its risks, and farming has more than its share. This project's risks include construction delays, weather setbacks, and the complications related to the cycles of farming. We have assembled a solid team and, with 20 years of farming experience and 15+ years of cheesemaking, are well-equipped to manage any obstacles.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Farm Backer! Heartfelt thank you plus a digital Farm Backer 'sticker' you can share on social media.(All giving levels $25 and up receive this.)

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    19 backers
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Embrace the Farm! In gratitude, your name on our FarmFriends wall inside the front barn entrance. Plus a Farm Backer digital 'sticker'! (All giving levels $25 and up receive this.)

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    48 backers
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Lamb Love! Receive a set of lamb notecards, plus the Farm Backer digital 'sticker.'

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    19 backers
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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Spring Frolic! (Single Ticket) Join us for a Spring Afternoon at the Farm -- tour the farm, take pictures with the lambs & chicks, and enjoy our cheese, specialty sausages and refreshments. **Date to be announced**

    Plus, lamb notecards and recipes, and a Farm Backer digital sticker!

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    51 backers
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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Farm Trio! Selection of our three favorite recipes that use Shepherd’s Way cheese, a set of three lamb notecards, and a note of thanks on a lamb postcard. Your name on our FarmFriends barn wall. Plus the digital Farm Backer sticker!

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    7 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Cheese! A selection of three Shepherd’s Way Cheeses, cheesemakers choice. Plus three recipe cards and three lamb notecards. In gratitude, your name on our FarmFriends barn wall. Plus, a digital FarmBacker sticker.
    *Pick Up Only* to be picked up at Minneapolis Mill City Farmer’s Market, Minneapolis Farmers Market, or St Paul Farmers Market.

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    89 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Shepherd Chic! Layer up, starting with a cotton Shepherd’s Way Farms t-shirt! Plus 3 recipe cards, three lamb note cards, & digital Farm Backer sticker! And, in gratitude, your name on our FarmFriends wall display inside the front barn entrance.

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    16 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Cheese Tasting at Insight Brewing
    Join us at Minneapolis’ Insight Brewing's Tap Room for a guided tasting of Shepherd’s Way Farms cheeses, with details on which Insight creations pair best with our cheese. Includes cards with suggested Insight pairings. [Date TBD] Single ticket.

    Plus, lamb notecards, recipes, and a digital ‘Farm Backer’ ticket!

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    9 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Cheese Tasting at Bang Brewing
    Join us at Bang Brewing in St. Paul with owners Sandy & Jay for a guided tasting of Shepherd’s Way Farms cheeses, with expert perspective on which Bang creations pair best with each of our cheeses. Includes cards with suggested Bang & Shepherd’s Way pairings. [Date TBD] Individual ticket.

    Plus, lamb notecards, recipes, and a digital ‘Farm Backer’ sticker!

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    12 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Sweetland Orchard Cider & Cheese Party
    Chef Marshall Paulsen of Birchwood Café will host a cider and cheese sampling at the beautiful Sweetland Orchard in Webster, MN. Join us with Sweetland owners Gretchen and Mike for a cider tasting paired with Shepherd’s Way Farms cheeses. Chef Marshall will be creating delicious appetizers to complement the tastings. Single ticket. [Date to be announced]

    Plus lamb notecards, recipes, and a digital ‘Farm Backer’ sticker!

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    13 backers
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    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    Cheese – delivered! Savor a selection of our three current cheeses shipped directly to you or a friend, includes 3 recipes plus 3 lamb notecards. Plus, in gratitude, your name on our FarmFriends barn wall.

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    39 backers
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Spring Frolic! Join us for Spring Afternoon at the Farm -- bring your friends or family, tour the farm, take pictures with the lambs & chicks, and enjoy our cheese, specialty sausages and refreshments. (4 tickets) **Date to be announced** Plus, in gratitude, your name on our FarmFriends barn wall, set of lamb notecards and recipes, and a Farm Backer digital sticker!

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    46 backers
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Local Art Lover! Ltd Farm Poster Print
    Fantastically cool limited edition print of an original frame-worthy Shepherd’s Way Farms poster by Minneapolis artist Grant Gay!

    Plus, lamb notecards, recipe cards, and a digital ‘Farm Backer’ sticker!
    **Pick up at Mill City Farmers Mkt or add $10 for shipping please**

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    Limited 9 backers
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Sleep Cozy! Shepherd’s Way Farms Wool-Filled Pillow Our Minnesota-made pillow are cotton covered, filled with warm, fluffy wool from our own sheep! Includes three lamb notecards, recipes, and in gratitude your name listed on our FarmFriends barn wall. Plus a digital Farm Backer sticker!
    Standard Size Only *Pick Up* Pick up at Mpls/St Paul Farmers Market. U.S. Shipping $15 extra

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    Limited 13 backers
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    More cheese! Stop by the farmers market for a selection of three pieces of Shepherd’s Way Farms Cheese, cheesemaker's choice – THREE times! Perfect for Farmers’ Markets regulars. Includes three lamb notecards, recipes, and your name on our Farm Friends barn wall. Plus a Farm Backer digital sticker!

    **Pick up at Mpls Mill City Farmers Market, Mpls Farmers Market or St Paul Farmers Market, spring, summer, and fall.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Adopt a lamb! Name one of our newest lambs and receive a beautiful lamb photo & set of notecards. Your lamb’s name will be displayed on our website and at the farm! Receive an exclusive invitation to visit the farm next spring for Lamb Day (**date to be announced**). Plus, set of three lamb notecard and three recipe cards. And, your name on our Farm Friends wall display inside the front barn entrance. Plus the digital Farm Backer sticker!

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    Limited 18 backers
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Cheese & Charcuterie at Red Table Meat Company
    You and a guest (ticket for 2) will join charcuterie wizard Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat Company and our shepherd & cheesemaker for an extraordinary guided cheese & specialty meats tasting party, at Red Table tasting room in Northeast Minneapolis. [Date TBD]

    Plus, lamb notecards, recipes, and a digital ‘Farm Backer’ sticker!

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Birchwood Café Lunch w/ Tracy Singleton (plus Birchwood cookbook!)
    You and three friends will enjoy a delicious lunch at cherished Birchwood Cafe with local foods leader & owner Tracy Singleton. Includes a signed Birchwood Cookbook, new in 2015!

    Plus, lamb notecards, recipes, and a digital ‘Farm Backer’ sticker!

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Birchwood Café Breakfast w/ Beth Dooley (includes Northern Heartland cookbook!)
    You and three friends will enjoy a delicious breakfast with local foods writer Beth Dooley at the cherished Birchwood Café. Includes Beth Dooley’s signed Northern Heartland Kitchen cookbook!

    Plus, lamb notecards, recipes, and a digital ‘Farm Backer’ sticker!

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Inner Cheese Circle! Be the first to get our newest cheese – before it is available in stores – along with a selection of our best sellers (four pieces total) & several of our favorite recipes using our cheese. Includes a Shepherd's Way t-shirt, three lamb notecards. And, your name displayed on our Farm Friends wall display inside the barn. Plus the digital Farm Backer sticker! (Shipped directly to your door!)

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    Limited 9 backers
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Travelling Cheesemaker Party We come to you! Gather your friends together for a private cheese tasting, featuring Shepherd’s Way Farms cheeses and accoutrements, and led by our very own cheesemaker. (up to 10 per group) Includes lamb notecards and recipes for your guests. Plus, your name on our Farm Friends barn wall. And, a digital Farm Backer sticker!
    *Within 100 miles of Mpls/StPaul only**

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    Reward no longer available 9 backers
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Traveling Cheese Party w/ Shepherd We come to you! Gather your friends together for a private cheese tasting, featuring Shepherd’s Way Farms cheeses and accoutrements, and led by our very own cheesemaker. (up to 10 per group) Includes lamb notecards and recipes for your guests. Plus, your name on our Farm Friends barn wall. And, a digital Farm Backer sticker!
    *Within 100 miles of Mpls/StPaul only**

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    Limited 5 backers
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Private Tour & Tasting Party
    Bring your friends (up to 12) & enjoy an exclusive visit to the farm! Includes a cheesemaker/shepherd guided tour of the farm, milking parlor, cheesemaking facilities followed by a cheesemaker-guided leisurely tasting of all our artisan cheeses plus specialty sausages. All the guests names will be displayed on our Farm Friends barn wall display. Take home a bit of cheese for later, plus sets of note cards and recipes for each guest!
    Plus, a digital Farm Backer sticker!

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    Limited 4 backers
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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Whole Big Deal! Okay cheese and farm enthusiasts, this one's for you!

    You will be in the Inner Circle, receiving our new cheese first, along with a selection of current cheese, delivered to you! Includes tickets to our Spring Frolic at the farm day AND you can Adopt-A-Lamb and attend Lamb Day!
    Plus you receive a wool pillow, t-shirt, a set of lamb note cards & recipe cards.

    And you get More Cheese -- three selections of Shepherd's Way cheese to be picked up at local Twin Cities farmers markets (eat it all yourself or share with friends!). Plus, the "Farm Backer" sticker!

    Plus your name will be displayed on our FarmFriends barn wall! Includes

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Funding period

- (31 days)