Cypress Grove Chevre
The seeds of Cypress Grove Chevre were sown in the 1970s when Mary Keehn, a single mother of four daughters living in Humboldt County, began looking for a healthy source of milk for her family. As luck would have it, a neighbor had goats. When asked by Mary if she was interested in selling them, she told her, "Honey, if you can catch them, you can have them." Armed only with her resolve and a coffee can full of oats, Mary captured two does, and in doing so launched a unique place in American food history. Possessing a background in biology, Mary's interest turned to breeding her goats. Within a few years, the size of the herd had increased significantly and she found herself with excess goat milk. She started experimenting with cheese making in her kitchen and with a small customer-base already growing, she officially launched Cypress Grove Chevre in 1983. At the time, commercial goat cheese production was virtually unheard of in the US. From the outset, Mary strove to make the highest quality, best-tasting artisanal cheeses, but market acceptance was slow at best. Although Americans were increasingly learning about strong French goat cheeses, most of the domestic cheese purchases consisted of bricks of rubbery slices pre-wrapped in plastic. Patience, hard work and a commitment to quality finally started paying off. Over the next decade, a loyal following began to seek out her new delicate flavors. As Cypress Grove's distribution grew, so did the challenges of managing goats while making cheese. It soon became overwhelming, so Mary made the decision to sell the goats to a number of local farms. Under their new arrangement, the new goat farmers would run their goat dairies and be paid based on the quality of their milk. Mary could now focus on moving the company forward and fully dedicate herself to developing the next series of American originals. Cypress Grove continued to grow, winning awards, and slowly increasing distribution to specialty food stores in all 50 states. The rest you might say is history...and a delicious one, thanks to Mary and her Arcata-based team lovingly referred to as "Grovers".