Kootenay Meadows Farm
Kootenay Meadows Farm, formerly Kootenay Alpine Cheese, is a multi-generational, certified organic, grass-based farm, located in Creston, BC. Kootenay Meadows is a truly powerful example of the potential for sustainable local agriculture. They produce a line of high quality organic products with an unwavering commitment to their animals and their land.
Kootenay Meadows supplies the Co-op with farm-fresh milk and cream in glass bottles as well as artisanal cheese. Their alpine style cheeses include Alpindon, Nostrala, and Mountain Grana. Their newest cheese, Crowdie, is a traditional Scottish soft cheese, similar to cream cheese, quark or Boursin. Kootenay Meadows organic butter is also available seasonally and the Co-op is proud to be the exclusive retailer of this amazing product.
Kootenay Meadows is stewarded by Wayne and Denise Harris and their three adult children. They say, “the careful management of our family farm is one of the greatest satisfactions of our lives.” Their youngest daughter, Erin Harris, has recently returned to Creston after earning a degree in Organic Agriculture. Erin worked for several years in Ontario before coming home and she brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for soil, cover crops, animal nutrition, and husbandry. Erin is managing Kootenay Meadows alongside Wayne and Denise and will take over when her parents are ready to retire (she is not holding her breath).
The Harris family care deeply about their cows, the land, and the surrounding environment. Kootenay Meadows follows a unique ‘closed-loop’, holistic farming process. The farm raises all of its own animals and more than 90% of its own feed, and it endeavors to sustainably cycle nutrients and waste within the farm system. The entire operation is certified organic. Kootenay Meadows calls itself ‘grass-based’ because the whole farm centers around this most important feed source. All animals over 5 months of age are on pasture from May to October. The milking herds’ diet is derived from 82% grass or dry hay in winter months, 16% percent grains (barley, oats, wheat and flax), and 2% from minerals. This exceeds the grass-fed milk standard of 70% grass or forage. Kootenay Meadows does not feed any corn nor soy. The Harris family loves grazing not only because it makes their cows healthier and happier, but because it is healthier for the earth as well. Pasture is a perennial crop and a soil building superstar. The cows, the grass, and the soil microbes work in synergy to sequester carbon under the ground.
Kootenay Meadows cows are a mix of breeds, but the majority of the herd are Jerseys and Jersey crosses. The Harris family have found that this friendly and tenacious breed is best suited to their farm. Jerseys love to graze in all weather and they are renowned for their high cream content and their A2 milk.
Last summer Kootenay Meadows installed a voluntary robotic milking system in place of their former milking parlour. The Harris’ love how animal centered this system is. The cows may choose to be milked at anytime and as often as they wish. It also means that they can move about freely in the barn and the fields at all times, and they can have 24 hour access to pasture in the summer months.
Every Kootenay Meadows product can be traced back to the cows and the carefully managed soils of this single farm. Their processing facility is located on the farm and they only use milk from their own herd. The milk is gravity fed from the barn to the processing facility, often within an hour of milking. The milk is then gently processed by Kootenay Meadows’ amazing team of family members and local employees.
Kootenay Meadows processes their milk as minimally as possible in order to preserve its flavour and vitality. For example, they make their alpine style cheeses with raw milk and they offer a non-homogenized fresh milk. Unlike major processors, Kootenay Meadows pasteurizes their fresh products at the lowest temperatures possible. Large plants source from many farms, and the milk has often been stored and transported for multiple days. High pasteurization temperatures sterilize the milk and achieve a longer shelf life, but this is at the expense of flavour and beneficial fauna. You can definitely taste the difference that freshness and minimal processing makes in Kootenay Meadows products!
“Unique to this Place”
The Harris family clearly love what they do, and they love this place we all call home. “We have been been absolutely blown away by the support of Kootenay communities. We live in one of the most incredible regions in the world, and we are very proud to make traceable products that are unique to this place.”