McKinleyville Gets Cypress Grove Goat Dairy – August 10, 2011

A Google Earth image of the goat dairy site.

Eye Staff Report

ARCATA/McKINLEYVILLE – Cypress Grove Chevre announced  Wednesday, Aug. 10 that it has gone into escrow on a new, 38-acre parcel in McKinleyville’s Dows Prairie area for its goat dairy.

The renowned cheesemaker canceled plans to locate the 1,400 goat dairy on the Arcata Bottom in June following harsh opposition from neighboring residents.

Since then, with the assistance of Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace and the county’s Community Development Services Department have been helping CGC identify new possible locations.

Below is Cypress Grove's press release announcing the news.

Cypress Grove Chèvre Press Release

McKINLEYVILLE – Humboldt County-based Cypress Grove Chevre announced today that it has agreed on terms and entered into escrow on a 38-acre site on Dow's Prairie Road in nearby McKinleyville. The land is adjacent to other agricultural properties and will be home to Cypress Grove's new goat dairy, which will supply much needed milk for the growing demand of the company's line of award-winning goat cheese.

"I'm pleased that we found such a suitable piece of land nearby the creamery," said Mary Keehn, founder of Cypress Grove Chevre. "The fact that it is so close to our first site makes it a little nostalgic for me," added Keehn, referencing her original dairy, creamery and home, which was also located on Dow's Prairie Road when she started Cypress Grove Chevre in 1983.

Substantial funding provided by Cypress Grove owner Emmi of Switzerland will enable Cypress Grove to build a modern, humane dairy by following proven best management practices. Herds will be maintained within well-ventilated and naturally lit indoor spaces while also enjoying outdoor access. Included in the plan will be efficient manure management that meets all government regulations and allows for productive re-use as fertilizer and soil amendment.

The goat herd will begin with 200 carefully selected does and is expected to grow to approximately 1,200 to 1,400 over the next five years. The new dairy will create 12 living-wage, fully-benefited jobs between the McKinleyville and Arcata facilities and will help ensure Cypress Grove’s future in Humboldt County.

"We are thankful for the great number of property referrals we received from citizens," commented Pamela Dressler, general manager of Cypress Grove Chevre. "It’s gratifying to know that we have a lot of friends and supporters out there." Dressler went on to thank the Arcata City Council, Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace and the community development directors of the City of Arcata and Humboldt County; Larry Oetkter and Kirk Girard respectively. “Our final decision is pending positive results from further inspections of the parcel, but timely and informative support from local government was a great help to us in refining this property search."

About Cypress Grove Chevre 

Cypress Grove Chevre is the leading producer of fine American goat cheese, including the top-selling American artisanal classic, Humboldt Fog. Founded in 1983 by Mary Keehn, Cypress Grove continues a tradition of innovation by introducing original American cheeses to the marketplace, such as Truffle Tremor and new Herbs de Humboldt. Based in Humboldt County, CA, where the Redwoods meet the Pacific, Cypress Grove's award-winning family of products can be found at fine retail outlets and restaurants across the country. Cypress Grove's mission is to provide its customers with an innovative and unique selection of cheeses while taking care of its employees, community, dairies and the environment.


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  1. claudia myers said:

    Ian, No apology necessary! I thought maybe they had rezoned us and I missed it.

  2. Ian Ray said:

    Claudia, I apologize for the bad estimate. The parcels on the south side of the Dow’s Prairie parcel are 5.5, 4, 3.9, 1.8, 1, and 0.9 acres.

  3. claudia myers said:

    “In the case of Dow’s Prairie, the county has zoned nearby parcels for rural residential housing with 1.5-3 acre lots.”

    Really? — my property is adjacent to this 38 acre parcel and our neighborhood is 5 acre minimum. Are referring to the properties north of the 38 acre site?

  4. Ian Ray said:

    When government entities facilitate conflict resolution regarding Right To Farm statutes, it sometimes entails a property owner’s abuse of Right To Farm statutes for the purpose of building a subdivision. Take the case of the owner of a New Jersey training track turned horse farm who leased land to horse boarders and other livestock (incubator?) tenants only to simultaneously clear-cut woodlands, truck in soil, and acquire subdivision permits:

    The owners of the Gilardoni parcel were trying to transfer their parcel ownership to a responsible enterprise. The owners must have thought this was the right thing to do as ag property owners. What will the owners do now? Unfortunately for those with any ideologically-based objections, it is still the right of private property owners to make their own decisions.

    It personally saddens me that some loud Arcatans are so blinded by media depictions of massive feedlots and overflowing chicken sheds that they forget about what elements constitute the continued principled use of our landscape’s resources. Humboldt’s dairy farmers need the help of local people, not distrust or disdain.

  5. Ian Ray said:

    Kevin, I would like to see some conflict resolution policies other than just relying on Right To Farm as that statute proved ineffective in Arcata. This situation is remarkably similar to Ukiah’s issues with a slaughterhouse for their grass-fed beef with some people feeling the need to not only be unwavering from their original opinions, but to come up with more theatrical dialogue when their positions were challenged.

    For the GPU to address this edge issue effectively, there needs to be mechanisms in place to gauge a parcel by the incompatible uses present on its surroundings. In the case of the Gilardoni parcel, that decision was already made by the county due to the incompatible uses. Rezoning was then blocked by the influence of Arcata. I am in agreement with the spirit of what Arcata’s politicians did in taking the unconventional stance of preserving ag zoning on the parcel. I disagree with the lack of formal mechanisms to deal with the inevitable disputes. Without conflict resolution, Arcata’s position and the county going along with this position are just words.

    In the case of Dow’s Prairie, the county has zoned nearby parcels for rural residential housing with 1.5-3 acre lots. There is no question as to the character of Dow’s Prairie with all the sheep and crop growing activity there. Historically, there was no question as to the character of the Arcata Bottom either, it was expected that dairy operations would be expanding even with the threat of urban encroachment.

    I think the GPU is on track as far as addressing open space. I do not think land use issues which pit ag and residential interests against each other are solved by Right To Farm statutes. Call me a skeptic, but I hold the opinion that the local smear campaigns with their uncompromising labelling of humane, profitable long-term ag production as “factory farming” will eventually result in more multi-family homes and associated sewer lines. I just don’t see the end result being new farm business in the form of the Bloomfield newsletter’s promotion of so-called “land-based agriculture.”

    As to the odds of the same people participating in the GPU as participated in the smear campaign, I would say that likelihood was sufficiently demonstrated by their attendance during the last open space meeting at the county courthouse.

  6. kevpod said:

    I’m just so mad at those bullshit artists. Why they would choose wet animal poo as a medium in which to fulfill their smelly artistic visions is incomprehensible.

    Anyway, maybe the neighbors will now participate in the county General Plan Update so as to distinguish between the types of agriculture they consider permissible on the adjacent land. What do you suppose the odds are of that happening?

  7. Ian Ray said:

    Solar Bozo, what particular aspects of the proposal cause you to use derogatory terminology? Humane guidelines are to be followed, so no animal mistreatment. Nutrient management certification is sought, so no pollution. These things appear to constitute the opposite of what is inferred by your terminology.

    Perhaps you can shed some light on the non-bullshit artist viewpoint. What is appropriate use for our landscape? Appropriate at the urban-ag edge? Why do you think it is that some communities live peacefully with farming while others (i.e. Monterrey, Arcata, Ukiah) have broad objections?

    Mind that you don’t have to type as if you are yelling to join this conversation.

  8. Solar Bozo said:

    I think you will find that folks in housing developments next to ag lands really ARE amenable to ag uses. Just not factory farms next door. That is NOT a subtle difference as some bullshit artists infer.

  9. Ian Ray said:

    Bloomfield matches most of the variables which jeopardize ag land. The school, church, and two houses cut into the ag property are incompatible uses. Residents value the ag land as open space, not as ag land. The parcel is leased with no long-term production plan and could sell out to urban development without having to remove any accessory ag buildings.

  10. EJ said:

    I would really hope that we see those parcels in bordering housing in Arcata rezoned for low income housing. As we can see on the streets everywhere there is a great need for housing for the homeless and near homeless in our communities. Seeing as there will be 12 or 14 fewer good jobs coming to Arcata more low icome housing will certainly be needed. Who could argue with developing that parcel into multiple family units built with inexpensive recycled materials? Shipping containers can be use to reduce construction costs, keeping the price cheap so that anyone can afford to live there. California will soon be releasing 30,000 prisoners from state prisons to alleviate overcrowding. Those guys need somewhere to live too. I am sure that Arcata can open their hearts to help.

  11. steve said:

    Where is the hue and cry, the pack of hounds, the villagers with pitchforks, arms akimbo with lit torches held high? They are nowhere to be found. It appears that the strawman ethical concern for the goats only extends as far as a suburban property line that touches properly zoned Ag land. Perhaps these villagers have become educated and learned something, let us be kind and grant them this benefit of the doubt.

    Ian, I really liked your comment, thoughtful and provocative as always. There is a debate waiting to happen here, the fate of Ag land that is next to residential areas. Hopefully the obfuscation of incubators and cattle covered fields with rainbows induced by sprinklers will soon be swept aside so we can have a real conversation about the reality of what these properties mean within a suburban setting.

  12. Ian Ray said:

    This article is not going to receive 100 comments. If Dow’s Prairie were published in June instead of Bloomfield Acres, it would not have received many comments or letters to the editor.

    Despite this project finding a different parcel, Arcata’s urban-ag edge is in jeopardy. Although I support keeping ag parcels adjacent to residential parcels zoned for ag, if I owned an urban edge ag parcel, I would petition to get it rezoned to Residential Medium considering Arcata’s vocal protests against agricultural development. What development is appropriate for the parcels surrounding Bloomfield Acres? Within our lifetimes there may be yet another subdivision there.

  13. AJ said:

    Wonderful news! I call dibs for the first class of McKinleyville students to tour the new world class dairy. Let this be the last time the flatlanders down the hill look a gift goat in the mouth.

Comments are closed.