Willapa Hills Cheese is Growing!

Willapa Hills Cheese funded

Williapa Hills Cheese handcrafts farmstead and artisan sheep and cow milk cheeses on a historic farmstead in southwest Washington on the banks of the Chehalis River. In 2007 our Grade A Dairy was licensed and in 2008 we began production as a Licensed Dairy Processor. Along with our three young children, we have worked hard to achieve our dream of a family farm and creamery.
Willapa Hills Cheese Family
Willapa Hills Cheese produces some of the best blue cheese in America. Our Big Boy Blue (on the right) won a Blue Ribbon in 2012, placing it in a select group of American artisan cheeses. The farm is proud to be a local employer and attracts interns from all around North America. We love welcoming community members and friends, new and old, to visit the farm, sample some cheese and enjoy the natural beauty of the Willapa Hills.

We hope you’ll click around and learn more about our farm, and we really hope you’ll become a Squareholder by lending funds to support our growing business!

Willapa Hills Cheese is raising $20,000 to buy equipment needed to increase production, enhance quality and capture processing efficiencies that together will ensure a sustainable future for the business. The timing is perfect, with increasing demand from specialty shops, fine restaurants and natural food stores making targeted growth and increased production a necessity. The new equipment will include four types of cheese hoops (over 200 total), a set of cheese harps or knives, an upgraded heating loop for the creamery’s vat pasteurizer, and a blue cheese piercer worthy of the name. With this new equipment in hand, more people will be able to enjoy Willapa Hills Cheese throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond!
Willapa Hills Cheese is the manifestation of a dream that took root over 14 years ago on a trip to California’s wine country. Fueled by a reality-altering mix of new life, mid-thirties perspective, corporate reorganizations, byzantine insurance regulations, and finally by the birth of our first child in 2004 — we reached a tipping point. We took Amy’s background in naturopathic medicine, Stephen’s in theology and youth work and mixed it together with a shared commitment to family. And what did we get? A family farm, dairy and creamery in SW Washington of course!

From the beginning, Willapa Hills Cheese has been mission-driven. Before we had cheese, dairy sheep or even a farm, we had a vision:

We are committed to the value of family farms, local food production and community involvement. We hold the conviction that sustainability and profitability can go hand-in-hand. And we understand that human health is integrally linked with environmental health.

To live out our mission, Willapa Hills Cheese has three goals:

  1. To create exceptional farmstead and artisan cheese and dairy products in an environment that supports and nurtures healthy family and community life;
  2. To enhance the awareness of and appreciation for artisan cheese and other natural farm products through product sales, hands-on learning and special events;
  3. To establish a place of welcome, education and hospitality for our family, friends and community.

While cheese may be at the center of this family farm and business, the real work is about so much more!

Our shared passion lies in our values and making a difference. Our backgrounds (Amy’s and Stephen’s) are quite different, yet both of our  previous professions were rooted in a set of very clear values. The value of human health and wellness — physical and spiritual. The value of people and relationships before objects and tasks. The value of community and interconnectedness over individualism and isolation. We realize, since starting the farm, that, as radically different as our lives are today than they were when we were in our previous professions, the world of the family farm is immersed in the very same values. In hindsight, maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise that we sought out a life fueled by the same desire to make a difference — albeit on a different scale and in a different context. These values have given us the strength and the energy to face an endless array of challenges and setbacks, as we strive to reach our goal of a sustainable family-run farm, dairy and creamery.
Community has been at the center of Willapa Hills Cheese from the very beginning, yet it has looked — and continues to look — different as each threshold in the life of the farm is crossed.

At first our community was made up of only our closest family and friends who supported our dream (even if they thought that dream and the dreamers were a bit crazy!). As time went on, our community expanded to include farm and creamery staff, neighbors and new friends who began to share in our dream and take an active part in helping make it a reality.

As Willapa Hills began to produce cheese and sell it at Washington and Oregon farmers markets, our community expanded again, with new customers from Cannon Beach and Hollywood in Oregon to Broadway and the University District in Washington– people sharing their enthusiasm as new products were developed and seasonal ones came and went.

Next we were joined in community with retail partners who had the patience and commitment to work with us as we enhance the stability and shelf-life of their products so that whole new groups of customers could come to know and appreciate Willapa Hills’ natural cheese and dairy products and thus become part of our community as well.

We have spent eight years building a large community of people who share the value of natural handcrafted food made on a family farm. This year, we are inviting our community to join us for our first two farm events – A Midsummers Night Bonfire & Barn Dance in June and a Cider and Sausage Fest in September.

Thus begins the next chapter of Willapa Hills’ story. Here’s to community! Willapa Hills Cheese couldn’t exist here without it – without you!


Willapa Hills Cheese Family

Owners Stephen and Amy, their kids and their sheep

 

This campaign was successfully funded on May 20, 2013