Green Dirt Farm founder, Sarah Hoffmann, wanted to raise her kids where they could run around in the fresh air and experience the joy and life lessons that happen when you grow up on a farm. And, today, she wants to share those experiences with you through our delicious artisan cheeses. It all started in 1998, when her third child was born, and she decided to leave her job as a successful academic physician to start a new life on the farm. In 2002, she hatched the idea of creating a humane, environmentally sustainable sheep dairy and she had the perfect name: Green Dirt Farm. Her inspiration came from knowing that this was a way for her to give others delicious, wholesome food, sustainably made.
Initially, it was a challenge to make this crazy idea work, since Sarah knew next to nothing about running a farm. Oh, she had the bits and pieces of understanding that a child absorbs while growing up on a farm, like a deep appreciation for natural cycles of life, and the beauty of wide open spaces combined with gumption to work really hard at taking care of plants and animals. She had spent her childhood on a series of small farms when her Navy family moved frequently. As a teenager she had helped out in her aunt’s gourmet cheese shop in New Jersey. In college, she kindled a passion for microbiology and botany that she would carry through medical school. Farming and cheese called to her. But milking sheep and making cheese…that was a whole different ball of cheese! The process of learning to make great cheese and building the needed infrastructure took 6 years. 2008 was the farm’s first year of commercial cheese production. Sarah was ready to share her passion for fantastic cheese made in an ethical, sustainable way with customers.
Once she started making cheese in the cheese kitchen at Green Dirt Farm, our cheeses started winning awards. In 2009, we won our first blue ribbon at the American Cheese Society annual competition, when our signature cheese, Bossa, won first place in the washed rind sheep’s milk category. That early recognition from our peers in the artisan cheese community confirmed that we were onto something. And we haven’t looked back. Since our first year of making cheese for sale, our cheeses have won more than 80 awards in prestigious cheese and artisan food competitions like the American Cheese Society annual competition, the World Championship Cheese Contest, and the Good Food Awards, among others. We love that we can bring delight and bragging rights to our community through our artisan cheeses.
Since our first years our cheese making has grown more than ten fold and we’re still growing. Today we have many ways for you to experience the delight of eating our cheese. In 2016, we opened a cafe and cheese shop in the historic town of Weston, near our farm. You can come to visit us there to taste our cheese or enjoy our menu items created using our cheese. You can even book a tour to visit our cheese kitchen and taste cheese back at the shop. Or you can come to one of our events held in the barn where we originally started milking our sheep.
Today we’re proud to be supporting other nearby sheep and cow dairy farms by turning their delicious milk into fantastic cheeses. All of our partner dairies pledge to uphold our most cherished farm practices, that is, they use managed grazing and humane and environmentally sound practices just like us. So you can eat our delicious cheeses knowing you’re supporting something good at the same time.
We believe that, like children, our animals do best when they’re free to romp around outside. That’s a big reason why we’re so passionate about our milk being produced on grass-based dairies. We take great pride in the well-being of our animals and believe that it contributes to the quality of our award-winning cheeses. In fact, a founding sustainability principle for our farm is that we are grass-based (hence the “green dirt”.) We closely manage the grazing of our flocks in order to build healthy soil and grow nutritious pasture grasses. We know that dairy animals raised on diverse grass pastures have a LOT more flavor compounds in their milk than when they are fed a conventional dairy animal diet. More flavor in the milk means a lot more flavor in the cheese.
Raising our sheep on carefully tended pastures not only produces happy sheep and high-quality, flavorful milk, it also prevents soil erosion, builds topsoil and prevents buildup of concentrated manure. Raising dairy animals this way even helps to sequester carbon in the soil, creating healthier soil and helping in the fight against climate change.
Nowadays, we feel that our founding principles are more important than ever and Sarah continues on this journey with the help of a small hard working team, including her daughter, Eliza.