Sep 7, 2018
In the cow-dotted fields of Sonoma County, dairy goat farmer Jennifer Bice has always forged her own path. As her goat dairy company Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery celebrates its 50th year, Bice looks to the future, adapting her farm to the immediate challenges of climate change, drought, and wildfires to protect the animals she loves and the land that sustains them.
Bice has always been a resilient entrepreneur, taking bold steps to grow her goat-centered business in a setting focused on cow dairy and largely dominated by men. Now she’s taking resilience to a new level, building infrastructure at her farm to be equipped for any scenario. The tragic wildfires that ravaged rural areas throughout California have underscored the importance of preparedness for Bice. Looking toward an uncertain future with weather events that have the potential to disrupt her business—or worse, put her beloved goats at risk—Bice has implemented a number of measures at her farm geared towards endurance and resilience.
Last year, Redwood Hill Farm completed a 100,000-gallon rainwater storage project, so that it can provide water to the goats throughout hot, dry summers and in periods of drought. Taking climate change preparedness a step further, the farm developed a program to grow Tagasaste, a perennial shrub that requires very little water to grow. Its root system, which can extend as deep as 10 meters, stores significantly more carbon in the soil than traditional feeds. Plus, the goats find it delicious. The farm is no longer reliant on fossil fuel-based energy, instead taking power from an array of solar panels that sit right outside the goats’ milking parlor.
Over its 50 years, Redwood Hill Farm has developed an adaptive and biodiverse ecosystem that can sustain it through any season. In addition to 300 dairy goats, the farm is home to an olive orchard, hop yard, fruit trees, beehives, chicken laying flock, and vegetable gardens. These complimentary production systems not only provide diverse sources of income, but deliver other benefits like enhanced soil health, water retention, compost production, weed and pest control, and pollination. Two generations of family members who live and work on the farm will ensure its continued operation far into the future.
Founded in 1968 by Bice’s parents, who moved from Los Angeles to Sonoma County as part of the “Back to the Land” movement, Redwood Hill Farm started small by selling raw, bottled goat milk to local co-ops and health food stores. In 1970, the company introduced the nation’s first goat milk kefir. Over the years, it expanded its award-winning product lineup to include an array of artisan goat milk yogurts, kefirs, and cheeses. In 2005, Redwood Hill Farm became the first goat farm in the U.S. to achieve Certified Humane status. And in 2011, Bice was inducted into the American Cheese Society (ACS) Academy of Cheese as one of the eight pioneers of artisan goat cheese.
“I’m gratified to see what a staple goat dairy has become in my lifetime,” said Founder Jennifer Bice. “50 years ago, I never dreamed that my passion for raising dairy goats would allow me to spend a career doing what I love. I want to invest in the health and longevity of our farm so that people can continue to be nourished by goat dairy for generations to come.”
Located in Sonoma County among the picturesque redwood trees of the Northern California Coast, 60 miles north of San Francisco,Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery is a different kind of dairy. It began in 1968 as a small, family farm run by the Bice family, producing delicious, award-winning goat milk dairy products and is operated by Founder Jennifer Bice to this day. Excellence is a top priority and Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery takes pride in producing the best tasting, least processed goat milk yogurt, kefir and artisan cheeses. The company focuses on supporting Sonoma county workers and community organizations, small-scale dairy farmers, and the dietary needs of consumers.
Redwood Hill Farm products are made at the company’s certified organic, solar-powered creamery in Sebastopol, California, with milk that carries the Certified Humane Raised and Handled label. Redwood Hill Farm was the first goat dairy in the United States to become Certified Humane in 2005. The goat milk dairy brand boasts the nation’s best-selling goat yogurt and kefir, and is growing every year.
Please support our sponsors:
Sonoma County Bike Shops and Groups. Find LOCALLY-OWNED Bicycle Shops for NEW, Used and Rental Bicycles as well as REPAIR. Look for a bike-riding group that suits your needs and style.
Please use the Gazette's Guide to find LOCALLY-OWNED Garden Businesses to support Sonoma County's environmental and economic health and vitality.