Vermont Creamery has made artisan cheeses and specialty dairy products since 1984, and its popular brand has helped put Vermont on the map among cheese connoisseurs. As its sales increased, however, Vermont Creamery found it increasingly difficult to source goat’s milk in-state; by 2011, the company was sourcing less than half of its milk from Vermont producers, importing the remainder from Ontario and Michigan.
In 2012, The John Merck Fund joined philanthropic partners, The Castanea Foundation and the High Meadows Fund, to form Evergreen Partners, L3C, committing $300,000 to the partnership to help finance Vermont Creamery’s establishment of the Ayers Brook Goat Dairy as a model commercial goat dairy on a former cow dairy in Randolph, Vermont. Vermont Creamery and Evergreen Partners share a vision for an environmentally sustainable and economically vibrant goat dairy industry in Vermont that will help conserve and protect the working landscape, as well as foster agricultural economic development opportunities throughout the state and the region. The two entities also share the goal of ensuring Ayers Brook serves as a teaching venue for goat dairy farmers by providing on-site training opportunities for students from Vermont schools and colleges. The farm supports best management practices for the production of fluid goat’s milk, and efforts to improve the genetic quality and quantity of dairy goats by offering high-quality replacement stock to the region’s farms.