Gourmet News • Spring Cheese Guide 2021

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in Vermont


If you’re looking for Big Picture Farm, you can get there – Louisa Conrad and Lucas Farrell are very welcoming when a pandemic isn’t an issue – but you can’t really get there from cheese. “Are you sure you want to talk to me? We don’t make much cheese,” Louisa said when I’d told her that I was looking to write a story for the Cheese Guide. “I know, but I’m always trying to get hold of you during sofi Award season, and you’re always too busy on the farm then to talk much to me,” I answered. “But the theme for this isn’t cheese; the theme is Vermont, and so I figured this might be my chance.” So here we are. If you just had your mouth set for Vermont cheese, though, you’re not far off – consider Bardwell’s just a few pages along the way. But if you regard your arrival here as a happy accident, just settle back and relax for the story, because a series of happy accidents is how Louisa and Lucas got here themselves. “Here” is a 100-acre hillside goat dairy in Townshend, Vermont, where Lucas and Louisa and a handful of others on their team take loving care of their herd of dairy goats, raise their daughters Maisie and Minna, make award-winning Big Picture Farm Farmstead Goat Milk Caramels and welcome guests who come to experience their farm as agritourists. “You have to work super-hard to have a business as integrated as we are,” Louisa said. “It’s sort of an insane 14

The Cheese Guide

part of what we do, but it’s why we do what we do.” Their own road to Big Picture Farm started in 1999 and 2000, when Lucas and Louisa both came to Vermont to attend college, where the two met. After graduate school elsewhere – Lucas studied environmental science and writing, while Louisa studied art – they decided that Vermont was where they wanted to make their home and moved back to Middlebury, where they both started teaching. Then the economy cratered, leaving the two of them looking for a way to support themselves until jobs became less scarce again. Louisa got in touch with the parents of some of her art students, the owners of Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury, Vermont, where Greg Bernhardt and Hannah Sessions raise goats, make cheese and pursue their fine artwork. They invited Louisa and Lucas to Salisbury to take a look at their farm and their life. “It was a way to pass the time until our real careers took back off,” Louisa said. “Lucas said this was what we wanted to do. It was something – a life experience – instead of what the plan was.” After an internship at Blue Ledge Farm, Louisa and Lucas moved to the farm where they live now to become the caretakers and cheesemakers for the farm’s former owners, who ran a sheep dairy on the property. “As part of that, we were allowed to start our own business,” Louisa said. On their own account, the couple brought a few goats to the