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Resilient Futures Spotlight

Q&A with Leah Sienkowski

Much like parenting, where children are raised among family, friends, and community organizations, food should be a shared responsibility and shared right. I dream of a day when livestock can be returned to their pastures, the natural land managers they are, building fertility and creating openness and diverse habitats.

Written by
Maggie Henderson

Q: What do you do?

A: Dreamgoats is a sustainable goat dairy centered on education. Our herd grazes on wild forage, producing raw milk for our herd share owners and milkmaid volunteers. Excess milk is incorporated into our line of goat milk soaps. We host soap and cheese making classes as well as farm events, baby goat cuddles in the spring and goat hikes in the summer and fall.

Q: How did you get there?

A: I founded Dreamgoats to deepen my own relationship with my ecology and invite others into conversation with their land and their food. After several years working on organic vegetable farms, I fell in love with farming but became entranced with the magic of dairy and goats.

In April 2016 I launched a Kickstarter to purchase my first goats, fencing, and a movable hut, and in August embarked on a series of misadventures and chase scenes, learning to gain the trust of my ragtag herd of three goats.

We’ve just finished our fifth kidding (birthing season) this spring, and are currently a twenty-four goat herd, milking seven each morning, and hosting more than a thousand visitors each year via goat hikes, baby goat cuddles, and school tours.

Q: What impact are you striving for?

A: I’m always seeking social and creative ways of caring for the herd and new ways of raising food. Luckily goats have a way of trapping us in their curious spell–and in their rhythms of herding and milking, breeding and kidding.

My dream is to invite folks into the nourishing life of being part of a herd that feeds them. To provoke conversation and thought about new ways of being and knowing and caring for this earth. To spark a path into intimacy and reciprocity.

Q: What does a resilient future mean to you?

A: Coming from a place where I care deeply about my herd and sustainable production but struggle to make a financially sound business on food production alone. I’m excited about new models of cooperative farming where growing food occurs within a community. Much like parenting, where children are raised among family, friends, and community organizations, food should be a shared responsibility and shared right. I dream of a day when livestock can be returned to their pastures, the natural land managers they are, building fertility and creating openness and diverse habitats.

Q: What barriers are you facing in your work?

A: There are many barriers that I’ve chosen to simply ignore and circumvent. Most of which revolve around capital, ownership, the “family farm” ideal, and even farming as a full-time job! Right now, I’m making it work by diversifying the farm into food production, agritourism, and value added soap sales, as well as an off-farm job. Perhaps my current barrier is knowing how to grow and in which direction!

Q: What would we find unique about your organization and the way you operate?

A: One of the aspects of Dreamgoats I’m most proud of–and pour so much energy into–is our milkmaid community. In many ways, this is the family of the farm. I owe them so much and am so energized by the ideas and skills and passions they bring to the farm. They lend their time and bend their schedules to fit the needs and rhythms of the herd. They inspire me to continually raise our standards of care, efficiency and sustainability while continuing to find delight in the work.

To learn more about how Dreamgoats and how to get involved, visit dreamgoats.com.

In this series, we highlight individuals and organizations that we have observed working toward creating resilient futures — anticipating and provoking atomic change toward sustainable outcomes for their communities and the world.

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