Member Spotlight:

May 2022

Conway Family Farm

Conway Farm is a boutique goat dairy, creamery and so much more. Specializing in providing quality farmstead goat milk, cheese, Gelato style ice cream, farm-grown meats, eggs, beautiful blooms, and the absolute best blueberries ever all while using sustainable, natural practices. Our farm is truly unique! Located on Livingston Mountain in Southwest Washington, our passion for our farm is evident in everything that we do. We create, seasonally-inspired food and floral offerings with meticulous care.

| Mini Farm, Many Flavors

Conway Family Farm is a micro-creamery located in Camas, WA. They are a farmstead creamery, meaning all the milk for their cheeses comes from their own herd of goats, and the cheese is made on the farm where the milk is produced. Conway Family Farm makes several variations of a farmstead aged cheese that is similar to a stirred-curd cheddar: Yacolt Burn, Silver Star Classic White, Boulder Creek Cumin, Columbia Gorge Caraway, and three yet-to-be-named versions flavored with chipotle, dill seed, and garlic. They also make a washed-curd cheese named Rosenblum after their friend Mary Rosenblum, who tragically lost her life in a plane crash four years ago.

| Flavor of the Week

If you ask Conway Family Farms’ owners Shaun and Lorrie which of their cheeses is their favorite, they will tell you the favorite changes every week. “Sometimes it is Yacolt Burn,” Lorrie says. “Sometimes it is Silver Star. Sometimes it is one of the others. We love them all—which is why we make them. We won’t produce anything that we don’t love ourselves.”

| Just the Two of Them

Conway Family Farms is a family-owned and -operated creamery with just two employees: owners Shaun and Lorrie Conway. Shaun and Lorrie have made cheese for their family for years, with the goal of making really good cheeses they themselves like and sharing the surplus with other folks who appreciate farm-fresh foods. As Lorrie says, “It hasn’t been until recently that goat cheese became very popular in our country, so until that past 20 years or so, there wasn’t as much of a demand for it.  Thankfully, we have seen some real changes in American consumers that have made goat cheese much more popular.”

| What's in Store

If you are looking to buy some of Conway Family Farm’s cheeses, you have a few options at your disposal. You can also buy their cheeses online and have them shipped during seasons when the weather is cooler. Or you can find them at Bay Hay on Bainbridge Island or on the menu at the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson. If you can make it to Camas, Conway Family Farm has a farm store on their property where you can find their cheeses, as well as farm-produced jams, goat milk ice cream(!), wool yarn and blankets, goat milk soaps, lotions and bath and body products, honey, eggs, limited quantities of lamb and goat meat, partner-farm-sourced hazelnuts, olives, and tapenades, and—when they are in season–farm-grown blueberries and fresh garden veggies (seasonally).

| Lifetime of Learning

When asked how she started making cheese, Lorrie Conway points to her mother, who started making goat cheese from her 4-H goats using a recipe she found in Mother Earth News in about 1975. Lorrie says they did a lot of experimenting when she was a youth. More recently, she and her husband, Shaun, had a wonderful mentor by the name of Mary Rosenblum who had been a commercial cheesemaker for a goat dairy in the early 1980s. (Mary died four years ago and is the namesake of Conway Family Farms’ washed-curd cheese, Rosenblum.) As with many artisanal cheesemakers, most of the Conways’ education in cheesemaking practice has come from trying different things to find what they really like.

| A Family Affair

Conway Family Farm has been around since 1990, when Shaun and Lorrie bought a bare piece of land with with Lorrie calls, “a crazy idea that we wanted to raise our kids on a farm.” The Conways spent the next decade building everything on the farm themselves with their young daughters—who have both grown up passionate about agriculture. Their eldest daughter, Ashley, finished her PhD in ruminant nutrition and works as a research professor in the agroforestry department at the University of Missouri. Her research interest is in silvopasture, which she learned about while living in Zambia, Africa, during a stint in the Peace Corps. Their youngest daughter, Amber, is now the family veterinarian.

| Small on Purpose

Conway Family Farm calls themselves a boutique creamery. That’s because they are tiny!  The Conways only milk between 15 to 20 goats—and they hand milk every one of them. The creamery is a very simple facility with a sweet little in-ground cheese cave for aging. Shaun and Lorrie praise and support all our fellow cheesemakers who make thousands of pounds of cheese each year, but their desire has always been to be small and specialty.  They do what they love and can manage themselves while doing it well.  Both Shaun and Lorrie hold off-farm, full-time jobs–so keeping the creamery small allows them to continue pursuing their passion without forcing them to hire help, thus diminishing any chance at profitability.

| Working Sustainability

Hand-in-hand with Conway Family Farm’s desire to keep their operation small is the idea of sustainability—not just for the business, but for the environment as well. For the Conways, a sustainable model on their farm means that each element supports the other components of the farm. It’s a holistic approach to small-scale farming, and as Lorrie says, “it doesn’t always work, but we do our best.” That is the beauty of having a small, family-run creamery: it is easier to be nimble, to try different approaches to find the best fit, and to adapt to ever-changing external pressures.