Sarah Hoffmann, her family and dedicated team raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) dairy sheep outdoors on pasture to create award-winning sheep milk cheeses and yogurts at Green Dirt Farm in Weston, Missouri.
Sarah founded Green Dirt Farm in 2002 when she left the medical field to start a small farm business. Sarah’s values and intense passion for artisanal cheese, environmental sustainability and employee welfare have led Green Dirt Farm to where it is today. “Our quest to create the highest quality cheese and yogurts using milk from healthy, happy animals starts from the ground up, literally, as our dirt is key to all we do here at Green Dirt Farm,” says Sarah.
Managing animals outdoors on pasture has benefits for animals, consumers and the environment. “Raising our sheep on carefully tended pastures not only produces happy sheep and high-quality, flavorful milk; it also prevents soil erosion and helps to build topsoil,” Sarah explains. “In addition, the milk of grassfed ruminants naturally contains more omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, beta carotene and vitamins E and A.”
As Head Cheesemaker at Green Dirt Farm, Rachel Kleine, is acutely aware of the benefits of pasture-based management for both the animals and the quality of the cheeses. “As the ewes eat a rich smorgasbord of grasses throughout the seasons, the flavors of their milk—and therefore the cheese we produce—change,” Rachel explains. “We celebrate these unique flavors as they reflect what the sheep are eating in the moment and remind us of the seasonality of life on the farm.”
Sarah chose to pursue Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification because she felt it best reflected the farm’s practices. “We take pride in the care and wellbeing of our animals, and pasture-based, high-welfare management that allows our ewes to behave naturally and socialize freely is at the core of our practices,” says Sarah. “As the only label that guarantees truly pasture-based management, and widely recognized as having the highest standards for welfare, it was a great fit to reflect our practices, and we’re proud to be Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW.” In addition to milking their own Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW herd, Green Dirt Farm also partners with other small family-owned sheep dairies in neighboring communities who have undergone the rigorous Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW auditing process.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW sheep’s milk cheeses and yogurts are available at restaurants and retailers across the U.S., as well as Green Dirt’s Store and Creamery, located in Weston, Missouri. Throughout the year, Green Dirt Farm hosts farm tours, cheese appreciation events and farm dinners.