Vendor: Rebecca King
Location: Monterey County, CA
Products: Certified organic sheeps’ milk cheeses
Meet Rebecca King, founder, shepherd, and artisan cheesemaker at Garden Variety Cheese. Based in northern Monterey County, Rebecca’s 40-acre Monkeyflower Ranch is home to about 100 ewes that feed on organically-raised, irrigated pasture and organic brewer’s grain from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing. Each ewe is named after a garden flower and treated with love and respect.
On Saturday mornings, Rebecca can be found at the downtown Palo Alto Farmers’ Market selling several varieties of her certified-organic sheeps’ milk cheeses. Rebecca took some time to tell us about her background and her thoughts about participating in our Market.
In Her Own Words: Q&A with Rebecca King
“How did the business start and why sheep cheese?”
I started in 2007 with 53 dairy breed sheep from Wisconsin. I had been interested in farming for a number of years and had worked on vegetable and livestock farms. In addition, I attended California Culinary Academy, worked as a chef and at Cowgirl Creamery, and knew I wanted to farm and work with animals. Raising sheep and making cheese tied everything together for me.
“What do you enjoy most about participating in the Palo Alto Farmers’ Market?”
The customers. I really enjoy getting to know the people who are eating what I produce. It is as important to me to know where my food is going as it is for consumers to know where their food comes from. It means a lot to me that my cheese makes people happy and nourishes them. The positive feedback has been tremendous, and it’s a great feeling to know that all of the hard work is appreciated!
“What unique items do you bring to the Market that customers enjoy?”
During the spring and into mid-summer I produce a sheep-milk yogurt that has become an instant hit with customers. Supply is limited, and because I can only produce it during the milking season, which is January through June, I sell out quite quickly by the end of the summer. You’ll have to catch me at the beginning of the next Market season to get a chance at this delicious product.
“What’s your favorite recipe or dish to make using cheese?”
In the summer, one of my favorites is watermelon or cantaloupe with my feta sheep cheese and fresh mint. The combination of sweet, salty, and tangy complement and contrast with one another and is an easy and delicious way to enjoy the cheese.
“Other than the Market, how can people learn more about Garden Variety Cheese?”
I have a website at www.gardenvarietycheese.com and a Facebook page. Twice a year I host an open house at Monkeyflower Ranch in Monterey County. I encourage everyone to check our website or subscribe to our Facebook page for details and dates.