Going 'All-In'' on Goat Farming

A lot of companies have been slowing down and cutting back because of the economy. But tough times aren't stopping some new businesses in the midst of the 'local food movement' from moving forward. More than a year ago, Julie Grant spoke with the owners of a goat cheese farm. She visited them again this year. Now, they're opening a new creamery, despite lots of economic obstacles.

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A lot of companies have been slowing down and cutting back because of the economy. But tough times aren't stopping some new businesses in the midst of the 'local food movement' from moving forward. More than a year ago, Julie Grant spoke with the owners of a goat cheese farm. She visited them again this year. Now, they're opening a new creamery, despite lots of economic obstacles:

Abbe Turner just quit her day job. She's had a good-paying university job - with benefits - for many years. But today she's waiting for the delivery of a $5,000 dollar pasteurizer.

"There we go. There's my pasteurizer." (cheering)

The truck arrives with a six foot round stainless steel tank.

"I never thought I'd be so excited by a 3,000 pound hunk of metal in my entire life. But..."(laughter)

Abbe and her husband, Anderson Turner, started dreaming of goat cheeses three years ago. This big hunk of steel will help them finally to get their creamery off the ground.

"The pasteurizer will allow us to make cheese in small batches, artisan cheeses. We'll do some cheves in the pasteurizer, some tommes and probably a goat gouda."

The Turner's dream started after they bought a few goats for their hobby farm. They made a little cheese for the family. And they liked it. So they kept getting more and more goats.

Now they have more than 160 Nubians, La Manchas, and Alpines. Abbe and Anderson had been getting up before dawn every morning to milk them. By hand. Then they would get their 3 kids ready for school and head off to their full-time day jobs.

The Turners wanted to automate milking, to make things easier and faster. They even had a group of 23 investors chipping in to renovate their barn into a milking parlor. But that was last fall.

"Unfortunately, with the stock market crash, the calls kept coming in. ëHi. We really believe in what you're doing. Unfortunately, I'm watching my investments tank and a goat cheese 'peration is not something I can write a check for right now.'"

Some people thought it would be smart to forget about starting a new creamery in the midst of a recession. Matt Ord used to sell the Turners feed for their goats. But he had to shut down his family business when the economy crashed. Now he's working with Abbe to build her goat farm and creamery ñ even though he's not convinced it's the right time for this kind of venture.

"She's nuts. But I hope everything goes good for her, I really do. She's got a lot of patience and a lot of nerve starting this business right now. It's a very scary time. And I know things are very tough for everybody."

Abbe likes to think of her family as bold, rather than nuts. And most of her investors have come back on board since last year.

Her husband Anderson Turner is glad she's starting full-time to get the creamery off the ground instead of waiting for the economy to turn around.

"I can't think negatively about opportunity. My time is now. My opportunities are now, my life is now. So, this is the cards I'm dealt with. I've got to deal. So, let's go."

The Turners believe that the local food trend is just getting off the ground, and that support for local foods will more than compensate for the tanked economy. They say restaurants have already put in orders to buy their cheeses.

Now all they have to do is start making it.

For The Environment Report, I'm Julie Grant.