We are nearly a week into our Eat Local Month here in Bellingham. Have you been indulging in the fruits of our farmer’s labor? It’s hard to not eat local with all the amazing produce, meats, and dairy around these parts.
One of my favorite local cheeses that the Forest Street Specialty Cheese Department carries is Gothberg Farms. Though they are in Skagit County, it’s close enough for me! They are our good neighbors to the South.
We recently went to visit the farm and talk with Rhonda, the owner. Kendal was good enough to take notes and write up this overview of our field trip.
In the beautiful countryside of Bow, Washington, sits Gothberg Farms. The Community Food Co-op has carried Gothberg’s Farmstead goat cheeses for many years, and we were really looking forward to seeing the source firsthand. Upon arriving at the farm, we were immediately greeted by the founder and owner, Rhonda Gothberg. A small table was set up out front with Gothberg Greek Style Yogurt with local honey and strawberries from down the road. It was so incredibly delicious. The Greek style yogurt can be bought at the Bellingham Farmers Market on Saturdays or directly from the farm.
After enjoying the delightful spread, we ventured into the milking area, where from behind the glass we had a nice view of the very sterile cheese-making space. A list of names was written on the dry erase board — Eliza, Melba, Gizzelle; every goat on the farm is named. We were then, finally, allowed to see the baby goats! BABY GOATS! The happy healthy babies chewed on our clothing and ran around in circles as we all gushed over them. Seriously, there isn’t much that is cuter than 3-month-old baby LaMancha goats.
Rhonda’s goats give birth to 2-5 babies at once. They stay with their mothers until the mom is ready to venture back to the herd. The little ones get the milk first; what’s left is made into cheese. While Rhonda and her longtime employee Debbie spend many sleepless nights in the maternity pen, helping the mommas give birth, some babies are born in the pasture.
Gothberg is now in its 5th year of its Animal Welfare Approved Certification. Goats are never neglected, abused, mistreated, or sold at auction. They have fresh water daily, trimmed feet, and they even get rose petals in their bowls every spring. “I don’t want our goats to have one bad day,” explained Rhonda.
From ensuring their feed provides nutrients for longevity and good health, as well as it being non-GMO and free of byproducts, hers truly are happy goats.
As we listened to Rhonda speak of her farm and her goats, it was clear that she is in her element. So much consideration goes into caring for the animals, the land they graze on, and her employees — you can definitely taste the love in the final product.
We’re honored to carry Gothberg cheese at our downtown location. Gothberg Farms offers all of us such amazing cheese.
If you are ever in the area, keep an eye out for the “Open Today” sign and stop by the farm to check out their honor box system of buying cheese. They make it easy for you to buy some of their cheese, with prices listed on each piece and a change container to make change. They encourage cash, but someone is always around to help check out with a credit card.