Once upon a time…
…in a decade called the 1970s, relief came in the form of convenience. Dinner “food” consisted of Hamburger Helper®, Shake ‘n Bake®, and pre-packaged TV dinners. Cheese? Well, let us tell you - it was something else altogether. Americans enjoyed their “cheese” as slices of orange, rubbery, plastic squares.
Fortunately, Mary Keehn, a self-proclaimed “serious hippie” and single mother of four, lived in a different world.
Hundreds of miles away from processed cheese and pre-packaged dinners, there was a quirky place with like-minded people who embraced healthy food - a place where majestic redwoods hugged sprawling beaches along the expansive Northern California coastline. A place called Humboldt County.
Getting Her Goats
In search of healthy milk for her children, Mary noticed a neighbor who had goats for brush control. She asked her neighbor if she could buy two of her goats and the neighbor replied with a grin, “Honey, if you can catch ‘em, you can have ‘em.” So a determined Mary went out with grain each day and eventually lured her first two goats: Esmeralda & Hazel. Those two goats turned to four and pretty soon Mary had, well, more. A lot of goats means a lot of milk, and so Mary tried her hand at making cheese.
Mary tried and tested at her stove, creating and perfecting a fresh goat cheese that soon caught on. In 1983, Mary officially launched Cypress Grove Chevre - not knowing a cheese movement was in the making.
With no formal cheesemaking training, Mary traveled to the cheese Mecca of the world: France. She tasted and tested and learned from the masters and makers of brie, camembert, morbier, and more - and suffice to say, Mary found her muse.
Full of great cheeses and bursting with ideas, Mary was eager to get back to her kids and her goats who were all eagerly awaiting her return. As she slept on the long transatlantic flight home to Humboldt County, a prophetic vision danced across Mary’s imagination. She awoke with a clear image of a new kind of cheese: a cheese accented with a thick line of ash reminiscent of the fog often blanketing the expansive Humboldt County coastline - and the idea of Humboldt Fog was born.
In the 1990s, Americans finally develop a taste for kraft spelled with a “c,” and the nuances of an artisan food world blossoms to include craft beer, chocolate, other fine cheeses. With these tasty treats, America’s palate is forever changed.
As America’s tastes evolve, so does the demand for cheeses that please our clamoring fans. More goat milk is needed for more flavorful cheeses, and so Cypress Grove expanded its green land with an impressive and lush model dairy. A great deal of thought went into the dairy, designed to be an easily accessible source of knowledge for the growing American goat dairy industry. If we’ve piqued your interest, you can find out more about our model dairy here.
A “Grover” is Born
Cypress Grove seeks people with a passion for great taste - and for great cheese - to join our team. We call them “Grovers.”
But the story doesn’t stop here! Cypress Grove’s story continues with all of you - our fellow Grovers - and the many ways your enjoy our cheeses. Please share your story with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! We’d love to hear how you continue our story.