Q&A with Mill City Farmers Market vendor Singing Hills Goat Dairy

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May 24, 2010 // UPDATED 2:16 pm - May 24, 2010
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Here are highlights of a recent interview with market vendor Kate Wall of Singing Hills Goat Dairy, a farm located southeast of Northfield.

DTJ: Can you talk a little bit about the history of Singing Hills Goat Dairy?

Wall: Lynne and I have been farming together for eight years. When we first got started we were growing vegetables, and actually sold vegetables at Mill City the first year the market was open. 
While growing vegetables was meaningful and enjoyable it had become clear to us five years ago that our farm could be better suited as an animal farm. This also suited our personalities and our history. Lynne grew up on a diverse farm with pigs, and cows, I raised sheep growing up. We both had an interest in milking, our rolling hills would be good for grazing, our property size and our smaller size made a smaller animal more suitable. 
We both had experience milking and knew without much discussion that the small herd of milk goats that began as a side thing had really become our passion. And then we spent five years trying to get a dairy/cheese plant going. There were many decisions to be made a long the way, many rules to learn and adjust our vision because of. We worked with a group called the Dairy Profitability Group for the last three years, and really could not have done this without the support of the group and the individuals who made up that group.
How did you get into this line of work?

We both want to contribute to the local food shed. We want ourselves, and our farm, to give back better. This has been the motivation for why we do what we do. How do we leave this land that we have the opportunity to steward, how do we leave it better than when we found it. How can our rural community regain its vitality.  How can we provide people with food that is nourishing and grown with as little impact on our environment as possible.  How do we nourish ourselves to be of service to others.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
The great thing about cheese is not only do you get to grow good food, there is an art to cheese making. The baby goats are pretty unbelievable.  … The opportunity to develop a relationship with a piece of land, see it through the seasons, and changes of the ecological community, to actually form a bond with a place.  The sky in the summer evenings.

What’s the most challenging part of your work?
Farming is a chaos. There are rhythms but there are no certainties.  And this is a new venture. That is the most challenging thing of what we are doing. You just do your best and hope.
What’s your take on the Mill City Farmers Market?

We are really excited to be a part of Mill City, to be back here. We love the feel of the market and how enjoyable it is for customers.  We have had several visitors who are just enamored with the feel and the food! It’s also where a lot of friends sell, and it is nice to see and connect with them weekly.
What do you hope to get out of being a vendor?

We want to develop relationships with customers, and other vendors. We want people to run out of cheese during the week and look forward to seeing us and seeing what we have to offer. We want them to feel connected to the people who raise their food and the process of growing food in general.  We hope that by offering these things and developing relationships it will have an impact at a larger level environmentally and communally.