A short drive from Eatonville, Washington, dozens of certifiably adorable La Mancha and Nigerian dwarf goats browse on fir, thistle, blackberry brambles and salal—all watched over by a pair of llamas and Mount Rainier. On this quaint 20-acre farmstead creamery, Sherwin Ferguson, a former nurse practitioner in Tacoma, and Meghan McKenna, a former cheesemonger at Sand Point Metropolitan Market, make award-winning cheeses.
Only a few years ago, McKenna and Ferguson knew nothing about farming (or each other). They met in 2009, when they were bunkmates at Quillisascut Farm School in northeast Washington. By early 2010, they had decided to join forces. Ferguson purchased four goats, planned the farm on her 87-acre property and studied up on everything from browsing goats to cheese production specifications. That same year, McKenna married her husband, Shawn, and further developed her skills during a honeymoon spent volunteering on dairy farms in Europe. By early 2011, the McKennas and Ferguson began experimenting with goat’s milk cheese alongside Ferguson’s brother Brian Weir.
“Our goal is to make cheese that we would like to eat,” Ferguson explains, “and if no one else likes it, we eat it anyway.”
The creamery produces an average of three cheeses at any one time. Summit, a long-standing favorite, is a soft, ripened pyramid cheese coated with vegetable ash. Wonderland, a classic mountain tomme cheese with nutty and fruity notes, is named after the trail that circles Mount Rainier. (Coming in 2014: Black Welsh Mountain sheep’s milk cheese.)
Mountain Lodge Farm cheeses are available at area grocers, shops and restaurants, including Central Co-op and The Calf & Kid on Capitol Hill; Beecher’s and DeLaurenti at Pike Place Market; Madrona’s Bottlehouse and others. Learn about farm tours, dinners and small-batch cheeses at mountainlodgefarm.com.