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Coastal goat dairy protected by Marin Agricultural Land Trust

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2010

CONTACT: ROBERT BERNER, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, 415-663-1158, ext. 301 rberner@malt.org; JEFF STUMP, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, 415-663-1158, ext. 303 jstump@malt.org

Point Reyes Station—Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) has purchased an agricultural conservation easement on the 160-acre Toluma Farms in Tomales. Owners David Jablons and Tamara Hicks of San Francisco bought the property in 2003 with a dream of rehabilitating the rundown former cow dairy as an organic goat milk operation. After making extensive improvements to existing agricultural facilities and restoring creeks and waterways on the property, they launched a small, modern dairy in 2007.

MALT paid $290,000 for the easement, all of it raised from MALT supporters.
The sale of an agricultural conservation easement to MALT will enable the couple to continue ongoing improvements and ready the operation for eventual cheese production. Currently, the Grade A milk produced on the farm is sold to Redwood Hill Creamery, while Toluma cheesemakers have begun experimenting with crafting small quantities of their own handmade artisan cheese. A portion of the farm is leased to a neighboring beef rancher, and about 25 acres are leased for dry-farmed potatoes.

“Despite its small size, this farm is highly productive,” said MALT Executive Director Robert Berner. “David and Tamara are very committed to its success. Their strong interest in sustainable agriculture makes them excellent partners with MALT in preserving Marin County farmland.”

Toluma Farms is the first Marin goat dairy to be Animal Welfare Approved. The herd of 200 goats, including Nubians, Saanens, Alpines, and LaManchas grazes on organically certified pastureland. All of the barns have been restored and are now used for goat stalls, kid barns, hay barns, and milking.

Jablons and Hicks are committed to educating urban youth who might not otherwise have an opportunity to learn where their food comes from. The farm is open once each month for educational tours, in addition to those conducted by Marin Agricultural Land Trust as part of its popular Hikes & Tours and Farm Field Studies programs.