Thursday, November 3, 2011

Moonflower Garden Variety Cheese

Garden Variety Cheese is a small farmstead based on 40 acres in Northern Monterey County. Rebecca King began commercial milking and cheese production in March 2009, then started selling three varieties of raw sheep cheeses at Santa Cruz farmers markets. The sheep produce lovely, rich sweet milk that makes fabulous cheese.

To ensure the health and well-being of the animals and the high quality of the milk, the 100 milking ewes at Monkeyflower Ranch are fed on organically raised, irrigated pasture and organic brewer’s grain. Each ewe is named after a garden flower and treated with love and respect. 

Moonflower is raw cheese matured for 4-6 months. During aging the washed rind develops a lovely orange color. It has a smooth texture, with salty caramel flavor, somewhat like Pecorino. It pairs well with cherries, sliced apples, pears, and a Zinfandel, or crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Adopt an Ewe

Dairy sheep only produce milk for six months out of every year. They spend the dry season pregnant, fattening up for the milking season. At the peak of the milking season, Rebecca's sheep produce up to 20 gallons of milk per day. All the cheeses are aged at least two months, some up to ten, before they're ready for sale. This means there is a relatively long investment time. By helping them to better balance the cash flow for the farm, you can help to ensure the future production of more high-quality artisan cheeses.

For $250 you can cover the costs to feed and care for an organically raised dairy sheep. In return, you will receive $300 worth of farm products from July to December of 2011. You will also be the proud sponsor of a lovely individual animal and you and your family will be invited to visit your ewe and the ranch at private events. And you will have the satisfaction of helping a young entrepreneur fulfill her dream of a life on the land while supporting local organic food production. You will also be welcome to visit the farm and your sheep at special Open Houses and events.

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