Tours, cave & classes to reach more of our community, teaching hands-on where food comes from! Micro-creamery, REAL food project in PNW
UPDATE: You did it! We hit the mark, now the question is arising, what would we do with extra funding.
There is this lovely little cheese press I've had my eye on:
Dutch Stainless Steel Cheese Press Pneumatic cheese press, all stainless steel - 2 pistons CAN $3995.00 (approx. US $3927)
I would need to raise that much more, because I have other pressing (get it?) projects. If the backer provided, and spoke for the press, then I would have to honor their wishes. Otherwise all extra funds will be used to help complete these other projects we need to complete on the farm this year:
These projects include (and will be completed this year with or without this project:
• Fencing additional pasture so we can better rotate our pastures (approx. $600 each fenceline – 6 fencelines; 5 gates approx $300 gate – not including labor)
• New shelter including a kidding barn for this new area (approx. $14,000 for materials)
• Concrete for the heavy use area to protect our land in the winter (approx. $8000)
• An onsite 3-bin compost facility (approx. $12,000 for concrete, walls and roof)
We aren’t expecting to fund these projects through Kickstarter, but I did want to assure you that any funds that should arise in addition to what we need for our Cheese Cave, Classroom and Farm Store would be valued and productive on the farm as well.
Thank you SO much for this amazing outpouring of support. I am still searching for the right words of gratitude; please accept my simple Thank You!!
UPDATE: We have been lucky enough to be interviewed by Kicktraq on their blog. For more details about our project please be sure to click and read. It addresses everything from what we have already done and invested to my favorite goat and what are dreams for the farm are: http://blog.kicktraq.com/so-close-cheese-cave-cheesemaking-classes-at-the-little-brown-farm-2/
We want to grow! We want to build a Cheese Cave, add Cheesemaking Classes and a Farm Store at the Little Brown Farm… Wow! That sure sounds like a lot of stuff! Maybe even more than one project? It actually is just one micro-creamery construction project, with 3 distinct impacts.
That is why this kickstarter is so important to us. The construction of the Cave cannot be completed without completing the Farm Store project. The completion of the construction allows us to ramp up our Cheesemaking Classes, offering more opportunity to teach and reach out to the community, our community - as in Whidbey Island, Seattle, the PNW, but also farmers and want-to-be farmers who want to impact life the best way they can.
The revenue stream produced by adding some frequently requested cheesemaking classes and a retail space is the missing piece to make our farm more economically viable. I have a passion for teaching and adding this to my gift for creating delicious cheese, is a winner.
We need an aging room! Fresh cheese is delicious, and we make great fresh goat cheeses. But we know how to make fantastic aged cheeses too. Unfortunately our space is so limited there is no way we can make aged cheeses to meet the level of interest we have received.
In 2010 we completed construction of our licensed (and certified) dairy facility. To create an aging room, classroom, and retail space entails significant construction. Once our Farm Store is complete, we will have a finished area to receive school tours, senior tours, and a clean, pleasant retail area. The classroom would also be part of this area.
I am already the luckiest person you’d ever meet. I love my goats. I love making cheese, sharing what I know about making cheese, and being part of a growing local food community. Showing todays’ children where real food (real good food!) comes from is incredibly exciting to me. Sometimes connecting a 10 year old to a goat on a milk stand sets off an awareness of the food chain whose results we could never predict. Pursuing my passion is not lucrative, it’s not restful or relaxing, and it includes pitchforking poop and dramatic losses (see my blog, I really share it all good, bad and delicious), but I am living my dream. Every day. I’m already the luckiest person I know and for that I’m grateful.
Not everyone is crazy enough to chuck their office-type day job and move to the country to become a farmer. (What were we thinking?) But you can get some vicarious rural experience by supporting our project, and who knows…maybe you can visit the farm, snuggle our goat babies and try our cheeses. We’d love to see you.
Thank you for your consideration and embracing our dream. We invite you to become part of it.
Yes! Not only can your sister attend the class instead (or friend, or mom), but you (or they) can trade up. What a thoughtful and interesting experience gift for the person who has everything or just prefers to have experiences over things or is really ‘into’ cheese or homesteading! Great idea and thank you for asking.
If you are only ready to pledge at the level that gets the Admission for one to our "Cheesemaking at Home" cheese class, but your sister (or whomever) would want to attend our Full Day of Cheese class (lunch included), we will credit the normal price of admission to the “Cheesemaking at Home” class to the fee for the Full Day of Cheese, she would only have to pay the difference at registration time.
If you are thinking about the cheese classes, this is definitely the time to pledge. Those rewards are limited and a great value!
A cheese cave is a beautiful environment that cheese can age gracefully to perfection. In our case it will be a cooled room with both the temperature and the humidity controlled.
Think of it like trying to ripen a piece of fruit on the equator or North Pole. At the equator it will ripen quickly and naturally, but over ripen and rot easily. At the North Pole the fruit will be frozen, it will never ripen (it doesn’t rot either, but is that really what you want?).
Cheese is a living thing too, in a good environment it can grow well and mature. In a too cold environment, its growth is halted, its life extended, but it can never mature to its full potential. In a too warm environment it quickly achieves the maximum culture growth it can support and allows unwelcome bacteria overcome the deliciousness it was intended to become.
A cheese cave is the controlled environment that can be maintained at correct temperature and humidity for the intended cultures to thrive. It also allows the cheese to be naked and not suffocated in plastic. This alone would not only allow us to make much more fantastic cheeses, but it would reduce our plastic use on the farm significantly. Once cheese is aged properly in the proper environment it creates its own rind/skin that means we can maintain it for markets in paper instead of plastic too. This is the equivalent of the flavor of my peaches that ripen on the tree (the ones the birds leave me). If you have never had a tree-ripened peach, I highly recommend the culinary experience.
We already actually have the most of the construction done, the largest part of the expense for us is to build a dry-goods area to hold all of our packaging and non-aging cheese materials, which are currently stored in that area for lack of any other place for them.
When the initial construction was done, we knew we wanted this cave, so we built it with the insulation and other requirements we knew we would need for converting it at a later date.
We are lucky that the construction of our dry-goods area will be just two walls and one door short of creating the room that will be used as our class room and starting point for tours (and already boasts a HUGE window for looking into the cheese room so you can watch the process!). For just $2500 more, we can complete the whole area and improve our community accessibility.
http://Kickstarter.com is a community funded project incubator. It’s also known as crowd source funding. This is a place for all the projects that don’t fall into the category of charities to raise money.
The way Kickstarter works is a person like me gets ambitious to do a project, or cut a cd, or produce a play, or self-publish a cookbook (see Lark’s amazing project here: http://kck.st/yt2i4J), or build a community farmers marketplace (like in Maine: http://kck.st/zXkFK4) or make some awesome cured meat products like another farmer in PA (http://kck.st/ya3g0i - I can’t WAIT to taste some of this with our cheese!). The person/entity with the dream may not have the ability to fund their project… and rather than just let it die for lack of conventional financing for myriad reasons, they choose to put together a Kickstarter Project and reach out to the community (both on local and world wide – you may be interested because it’s YOUR farmer, you may be interested because it’s a family farm on the other side of the world and you want to see more successful family farms - and less mono-crop agricultural conglomerates).
So, how does it really work? People like YOU decide a Project is important… or at least important enough to part with a few dollars. Enough people make a difference. Some Projects fund in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, often $10-25 at a time.
Another project I backed (http://kck.st/wlzN0Y) is a young lady that wants to go study cheese being made in Italy. I didn’t ever know of this person before stumbling upon her Kickstarter. I thought I would LOVE to do this, but I can’t – I’m too busy with my own dairy. But that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get to, and for a few dollars that when push comes to shove I won’t even notice missing… I get to be a part of it. I get to help her go live one of my dreams… and that alone is worth it. Then, I started following her blog, and interacting with her, and getting excited for her… for less than a ‘movie night’ or even going out to lunch. Now, I get a Backer Reward from her too, a memento from our little shared experience. How cool.
But it’s all or nothing.
If a project doesn’t reach its funding goal by the time the clock runs out, no credit cards get charged, nobody gets any funding and the project is dead. You can try again, but I have watched a few try, their second and third attempts each getting less and less support than the original.
In our case, if it doesn’t fund, the project is on indefinite hold. We have more fencing and shelters and improvements to make here on the farm for the health of our herd. We won’t be able to develop what would be our community access portal… at least not for a few years.
But… if we get your help?! Your $10? Your $25? Your $500? We can do this, this year, and make our farm more sustainable by offering the classes people have been requesting and providing new cheeses for the palates to enjoy, and most importantly providing a connection between people and their food.
Did that answer your question? Maybe not… try clicking on the ‘Pledge $xx or More’ button to the right that most closely fits the rewards you want or the budget you have… Kickstarter and Amazon have done the rest of the explaining and will walk you through it without all of the silly distractions I can’t help myself from putting in!
There is a little honored law that prevents the interstate shipping of cheese unless you are under the FDA’s watchful eye (yeah, I know, the same folks that let millions of containers of ‘food’ from other countries come into this country without so much as a sniff test). We are certified under the WSDA (Washington State). Last year we had 12 various inspections/inspector visits in just over 3 months. The time lost from that alone was nearly enough to break us, inviting the FDA to use more of our time that we either have to have lost production or pay employees for is not economically possible at this point.
Shipping cheese via a carrier that COULD bring it out of state is enough to trigger this clause. Sorry.
However, if you are not able to come pick your cheese up (either at the farm or one of our farmers markets this summer), we would be so happy to donate your cheese to our local food bank. Even if you could pick it up, but prefer it be donated, let us know. Good Cheer is our local food bank and they are extraordinary. During this economically challenging decade, Good Cheer has kept the citizens of this community fed, well (much grown in their OWN garden), sustainably and respectfully. Learn more about our Island jewel http://www.goodcheer.org/
We honor the seasonality of goat cheesemaking. Our fresh cheese is just now coming back online. This project would help us to offer more aged cheeses providing us with a more stable year-round ability to pay our feed bills.
We have two local shops (bayleaf in Coupeville and Oak Harbor as well as Scotty's Farm to Market in Freeland) that carry our cheese regularly when it is available. There are also a few wine tasting rooms. In Langley The Wine Shop on Second keeps the largest inventory. Several fine restaurants use our cheese or offer it on their cheese plates. When we go to Ballard we are lucky to enjoy our cheese (image of it shown in the video) from the Walrus and the Carpenter (they also use a bunch of local vegetables grown here on Whidbey at Willowood Farm on Ebey Prairie).
Once this Kickstarter funds (hopefully!!) we will open our new farm store here in the fall. The only place you could get our cheese and meet the girls responsible and thank them personally!!