Cream of the Crop

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Family-owned dairy farm feeds the community

Farm Focus: Cast Iron Farm
By Angie Helvey, Contributing Writer
Photos courtesy of Cast Iron Farm

Anyone who’s tasted raw, farm-fresh milk will tell you it’s an entirely different beverage from store-bought. Thick, creamy, and chock full of nutrients, it has a sweet flavor with fresh, earthy undertones. Cast Iron Farm is a small, family-owned farm specializing in fresh milk from the happiest dairy cows and giving people a way to connect directly with their food and local farm.

Christine Anderson grew up on a cattle ranch in Eastern Oregon. After moving to the valley to go to school and spending some time in Europe, she decided to become a food producer. “I spent three years in Greece and noticed how they valued food, how ingrained it was in their culture,” she explains. “I wanted to bring that to my community.” Christine and her family began by leasing a chunk of land on a shared property and purchased Cast Iron Farm in 2010.

Cast Iron Farm operates a dairy herd share, which means customers pay to take partial ownership of the animals. In return, they receive the benefits of owning well-cared-for, happy cows. Members can visit the farm weekly to pick up their share. “When we onboard someone, they can bring anyone they want and tour the farm. We have regular hours when customers can pick up milk, poke around and say hello to the cow. We’re one of the few farms you can go to and actually lay eyes on the animals producing your food each week,” Christine says.

The cows at Cast Iron are a mixed breed with an emphasis on Brown Swiss, a lovely variety that thrives in the valley climate and are often crossbred with Jerseys to promote longevity and fertility. Cast Iron has a small beef component to their program, which is operated on a different farm, but they’re primarily interested in dairy cows and caring for the animals throughout their lifespan. Pampered and treated like the queens they are, the ladies are never forced to produce beyond their limits and live a quiet, comfortable life on the farm with a rotationally grazed pasture and plenty of alfalfa hay in the wet months. “We adore our cows,” Christine says, “and they’re all daughters or granddaughters of something I bred on the farm.”

The Brown Swiss are also known for their milk, which is exceptionally delicious and contains lots of protein and fat. Cast Iron is committed to safety and transparency concerning unpasteurized milk. “We’ve been listed by the Raw Milk Institute since 2012,” Christine explains, “which involves certain production protocols and regular bacteria tests that are accessible to the public. We’ve never had any issues with the milk that comes from our farm.”

Christine does most of the farm work, with support from her husband and three children. “Farming is my dying passion,” she explains. “My world revolves around milking my critters.” The family also raises sheep, a few Yaks, a couple of horses, a flock of chickens and a few dairy goats that belong to their ten-year-old daughter. Christine makes fresh cheese almost every day and teaches cheese-making classes and workshops on the farm. Participants learn to make both soft and hard cheeses.

A leader in advocacy for small farmers, Christine, among others, is currently in the midst of a lawsuit with the state of Oregon to fight strict regulations being brought down on small farms. “They want even the smallest operation to adhere to the same guidelines as large producers, which is a lot of red tape,” she explains. “It seems like such an attack on small agriculture.”

Cast Iron Farm is proud to be in the business of feeding its community. “It’s our goal to rebuild and nourish people’s relationship with food and to the ruminant animals that are providing for our very existence,” Christine says. They love seeing families come back year after year. “We still see kids who started coming weekly to pick up milk with their parents over ten years ago, and I cherish the chance to be a part of that.”

Cast Iron Farm is located at 4714 NE Riverside Loop, McMinnville, OR, 97128. Please give them a call at 503-560-8600 or visit their website at