Ann-Marie and Carla have been in a loving partnership for 32 years and farm together at Sutton Grange in Victoria.
Carla spent her childhood in Warrnambool (a Victorian country town) where the local dairy supplied the family with raw (unpasteurised) cow’s milk and the cheese factory delivered a weekly supply of plain yoghurt. Carla has a Bachelor of Education (music, history and politics).
Ann-Marie grew up on the outskirts of Melbourne where her love of animals grew from raising ducks and pet goats. Ann-Marie has a Bachelor in Agricultural Science, a Diploma of Education, and a Graduate Diploma in Outdoor Education, and has completed 2 years of a Degree in Health Science.
Ann-Marie and Carla have developed their organic herd management and cheese making skills on a diverse range of farms both in Australia and overseas. ‘Holy Goat’ cheese reflects a respect and care for the natural environment, the health and well being of the goatherd and an integrated wholistic farm management.
In 1993 Carla and Ann-Marie travelled on bikes and worked on farms for 12 months in Europe. One of their most valuable experiences was spending autumn and winter on a mixed enterprise traditional Irish farm. They milked goats, raised poddy calves, grew, plucked and prepared guinea fowl for restaurants, grew vegetables and wild harvested crab apples, elder flowers and berries for jam and wine. They also helped turn an old barn into a cottage. Most importantly they lived in the rhythm of the season, the long cold days, the produce, the changing light, food and activities. They practiced using all our senses and observations to ‘know’ how the animals and land were fairing.
After returning to Australia in 1994 they worked on a number of organic farms for a year. They built fences, terraced, made cheese, trimmed hooves ploughed and sowed crops and saw the impact of drought on land, stock and farming families. The one-year became 3 years, which included 2 years working with a goat and cheese producer in Western Australia. They managed the goats and helped to make the cheese. A further 6 months on a certified organic wheat and sheep farm honed their observational skills with animals and pasture management. It is fair to say these experiences gave them the confidence to establish their own farm and cheese production.