In and Around Fitchburg, Massachusetts

This blog was created to discuss some of the positive aspects of living in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, that are often overlooked by outsiders and residents alike.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Crystal Brook Farm

Over the weekend, I headed to Crystal Brook Farm (no website, but their address is 192 Tuttle Road, Sterling) for an “open house” event. This place makes the most unbelievable goat cheese, and it was great to meet the owner and get a tour of the facilities. The most astounding thing I learned is that the entire business is run solely by the owners, Ann and Eric Starbard, with some help from only a couple of employees! The goat herd now includes about 70 animals encompassing three different breeds of goats. The milking season is just wrapping up now, with all of the goats presumed pregnant (by the single male in the herd, talk about a major responsibility!) and expected to deliver in February. We met the herd and were particularly impressed with how affectionate the animals were.

From late February through December, each goat is milked twice per day. Until very recently, that process was done entirely manually! The farm now features a milking machine that pipes the milk in for pasteurization, but from that point forward, the cheese is made by hand. In addition to taking care of the goats, maintaining the farm, and making homemade cheese, the owners also attend nine farmers’ markets every week throughout the summer. I was actually fortunate enough to stumble upon a kiosk set up by Ann Starbard at the Garlic and Arts Festival this summer (see earlier post). After sampling some of the farm’s cheese, I was thrilled to discover that they’re located very close to home!

In addition to nine mouth-watering varieties of goat cheese logs (including garlic, chive, dill, and a sweeter cranberry variation that makes a perfect bagel topping), Crystal Brook Farm makes two different “party spreads” that I would highly recommend. All items are available at various farmers’ markets throughout the state and also year-round at the farm itself in a small self-service shop. We’re so lucky to live close enough to stop in any time of day and pick up whatever we’re in the mood for. And it’s amazing that the cheese we picked up was literally only two days old - it doesn’t get much fresher than that! The on-site shop also sells other handmade products, such as goat milk soap, herbal tea, and knit items. A variety of free recipe cards are available as well for those looking to cook up something creative using goat cheese. I grabbed a recipe this weekend for a goat cheese and hazelnut pesto pasta dish that I can’t wait to try.

If you live in the area or are simply planning to come out here for a visit, I would definitely suggest that you stop by Crystal Brook Farm. Not only are the cheeses truly wonderful, but it’s great to know that the business is run by hard-working individuals who are incredibly passionate about what they do and who are eager to share their enthusiasm with others!

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