August is almost over, and the kids are back at school. It has been an astonishingly gratifying month for the farm. In the first week of the month, we featured twice on NPR and were filmed for ABC.
Sharina never got off the ‘phone, hearing your comments and taking bookings for tours and events. We were awarded a $33,500 grant for our irrigation project, of which more later! And we won a blue rosette at the 2009 American Cheese Society competition for our fresh goat milk cheese. That is, a national first place for our basic farmstead cheese!
We consistently win national prizes for our plain cheese. It has the delicious taste of our town: the Pacific breezes, the rich loam and nutritious pasture, our healthy herd of goats. I thank the judges, and all our visitors and friends, for their support. But this is not my prize. It belongs to Salud and Roberto and their family.
I met Roberto when I was very young. I had moved out of my yurt and in with my husband, and was working at Jacobs Farm in Pescadero. Roberto and I would drive a flatbed truck to the produce terminal at SFO at night, and pick up and deliver boxes of tomatoes and herbs. We got on so well for seven years that of course I asked him to join me in restoring the dairy farm where I lived.
Roberto's wife Salud had followed him from Guanajuato, with their two younger girls. She looked after my baby with such a strong work ethic it was obvious she could run the new dairy business. Salud began traveling to Davenport two or three times a week, for a year, to learn the art of cheese making from Nancy Gaffney, who had sold me her goats. Roberto and Salud's older daughters, Norma and Rebecca, joined her in the dairy.
It is the consistency of Roberto and Salud's work, and that of everybody else on the farm, that earns our prizes. Every action on the pasture, with the goats, or in the dairy, is exact and timely, as it was the day before, and will be tomorrow. The blue rosettes are theirs.
Imagine a group of girlfriends, years back, when they were even younger than they are now. They're passionate and dynamic, they're all in the food and wine business… It's the American Cheese Society awards, in Vermont, and it's been a long, successful day. They've partied all evening, they're tottering down the hotel corridor, and now Kristin, the witty Wholefoods buyer from Minneapolis, must make a decision… Will she or won't she knock on the door of Bob, the charming wine merchant?
Flash forward twelve years (but everybody still looks good) to the pop of a champagne cork. It's Kristin and Bob's place in Las Vegas. She knew cheese and he knew wine: a match made in heaven, but helped by me…. They sold everything and moved west, to open their gorgeous gourmet shop. We had a few days with them earlier in the summer, with some pool and poker in Vegas, and I had to congratulate myself on the amazingly successful partnership of two funny, hardworking, delightful people!
Visit Bob & Kristin's Valley Cheese & Wine Shop Online
I do the matchmaking, and Elvis does the marrying.
We are very happy to announce that Harley Farms has won 1st Place for our Plain Chevre Log in the Fresh Goat's Milk Cheeses category at the 2009 the American Cheese Society Award in Austin, Texas. We also took 2nd Place in the Cultured Products Made from Goat's Milk category for our Fromage Blanc. Overall we were very happy about how well our cheese was received at the ACS awards and we look forward to next year in Seattle!
Harley Farms was featured on NPR's (KQED) "The California Report". The story "Where Small Farmers Are Finding Fertile Ground" focuses on the success of small farms along the northern California coast despite the recent tough times for many California farmers with regard to falling milk prices as well as depressed prices for cattle and almonds.