Good news everyone: dreams do come true – there is such a thing as the California Cheese Trail! My husband and I found out about the CA Cheese Trail at the farmers market, and our first stop was Long Dream Farm, in Lincoln, CA. Our morning tour there was without a doubt one of the highlights of this holiday season for me.
Driving along country roads through idyllic pastures, the bucolic charm of the drive alone would have been worth the trip. But the morning just kept getting better. As soon as we got out of the car, we were enthusiastically greeted by one (of the seven, very sweet) farm dogs, and she proceeded to stay by our side through most of the tour. We were also greeted with a chorus of good mornings! from the cows and their adorable calves. As of late-December 2017, there are about 150 cows at Long Dream Farm, and the family living and working on the farm knows each of them by name. This is a slaughter-free farm, a sort of experimental farm in ethical dairy production run by individuals passionate about animal welfare and sustainable agriculture and living.
The tour was led by Clara and her father, Andrew, and we were afforded a window into what a farm driven by a focus on animal well-being looks like. The cows are only milked once daily, and the rest of their milk goes to their calves, who continue to live with their mothers until natural weaning. There are also about 1900 chickens (that produce pasture-raised eggs), several emus, an alpaca, a horse, and other animals on the farm. Throughout the tour, Clara and Andrew shared fascinating tidbits about all the animals and their operation. If I shared all of them here, this post would be incredibly long, so I recommend you go and see for yourself! Farming is not an easy profession, and family farms are becoming a sort of endangered species of their own. Entrepreneurial farms like Long Dream Farm will play a key role in how we choose to combat the inherent problems in our (industrial) food system to supply healthy, sustainably produced food to everyone.
While brushing some of the bulls, I spoke with Andrew about his beginnings on the farm and our current food system. I hope to continue this conversation in the future, as he certainly brings rich personal experiences to the table, as well as a perspective on how to improve the health of our planet and those – human and animals – who inhabit it. We were the last ones to leave after finishing the tour because I had so many questions throughout, but they didn’t rush us, answered all my questions happily, and provided much food for thought.
I recommend Long Dream Farm most highly! Note that as fun as the California Cheese Trail website is, it seems to be out-of-date for this farm, as a tour only costs $5 when pre-booked! Money well spent to support a great farm and outreach, learn, and soak up some farm spirit. You can also do a farm stay, purchase some products online, or see them at the Auburn Farmers Market. Before leaving, we purchased yogurt, and it was truly some of the best I have ever had, a sentiment confirmed by my mom and dad. Long Dream Farm – their yogurt and the work they are doing – left the perfect taste in my mouth.