Local TableLocal Table

The Local Guide To Food And Farms In Middle Tennessee Since 2007
Get Our News Letter
Photo

Photo
Congratulations to Gayle and Jim Tanner for their repeat win for 2009 Overall Small Farmer of the Year Award!

For more information about Bonnie Blue Farm visit www.bonniebluefarm.com


More Articles:

F eatured Story

Grower Profile
Bonnie Blue Farm
by Marne Duke

It's all about keeping it small for farmstead goat cheese, says producer Gayle Tanner.

"My goal is to never make enough cheese or to have bar-codes on our products," she explains, on the 300- acre Bonnie Blue Farm in Waynesboro, Tennessee that she owns and operates with her husband, Jim.

Proudly holding the farmstead cheese banner, the Tanners are creating buzz in the Nashville food retail and restaurant scene and building a successful business by keeping it all in their own hands by producing unique, award-winning goat cheese varieties entirely on their own farm.

Farmstead cheeses, such as the Tanners', are defined as cheese made only with the milk from the herds on the farm where it is produced. This is compared to artisan cheeses, which are cheeses made by traditional methods but with milk sourced from off-site. Farmstead producers are usually sole proprietors producing for sales only within their own region. "People at markets and restaurants like to hear a story with their foods, that's why we do well selling directly," says Gayle. Farmstead cheeses, such as the Tanners', are defined as cheese made only with the milk from the herds on the farm where it is produced.

Photo

Patiently guiding their flock of Nubian and Saanen dairy goats through a tree-lined field, Gayle searches for fresh patches of honeysuckle and wild clover for her does' late afternoon graze. "Sometimes it's difficult to get people to understand why buying farmstead cheese is different," says Gayle while petting one of her goats. "Some customers tell me they can get Laura Chenel goat cheese at Sam's Club for $3.99, but, it's not the same," Gayle says brushing back her long salt and pepper hair into her baseball cap. "Our cheese tastes like the seasons. Depending on what's blooming in the fields our cheeses will change flavor. You can't get that when you mix milk from a bunch of other farms."

Watchful of her flock, Gayle eyes an uncomfortably pregnant goat ~Tempest', who is struggling in the late afternoon heat and Gayle makes the decision to head back to the cluster of barns - the cheese making studio and a restored log cabin that is the Bonnie Blue Farm compound. Gayle simply makes a motion towards home and the herd of about 30 turn in unison and canter back happily for their evening milking.

Watchful of her flock, Gayle eyes an uncomfortably pregnant goat 'Tempest', who is struggling in the late afternoon heat and Gayle makes the decision to head back to the cluster of barns - the cheese making studio and a restored log cabin that is the Bonnie Blue Farm compound. Gayle simply makes a motion towards home and the herd of about 30 turn in unison and canter back happily for their evening milking.

Bonnie Blue Farm is at a critical point. The high demand for their cheeses is forcing them into thoughts of expansion. "I know my next step is to have an employee, and I don't know if I can do it," says Gayle while turning fresh chevre logs in their cheese studio. "Right now I know everything that has our name on it has been touched from beginning to end with my hands. That will be hard to let go of."

*