You’ve Got to be Kidding – Goat Cheese is in Season!
by Ollie Benson
The hills above Copping are alive with the sound of…bleating! It’s here on the slopes of the Ragged Tier and overlooking Marion Bay that you will find Leap Farm, a small Swiss Toggenburg goat dairy that produces Tongola Cheese.
October was kidding season, and with a breeding herd of 80 does (the name for a female goat) this means around 160 baby goats are hopping, running, and of course leaping around the lush green, regeneratively farmed hills.
Established in 2012, Leap Farm is run by Kate and Iain Field. They farm goats for milk and meat, as well as a small herd of cattle, and have their own on-farm dairy and cheesery. Kate has also developed a skincare range called Leapful, that combines the lactic whey, a by-product of their cheeses, with local expired olive oil.
Kate and Iain farm using ecological principles and are dedicated to increasing biodiversity on their farm. This year Iain, an academic turned farmer, was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship and spent six weeks overseas studying different agricultural systems and farms. In 2024 he will travel again to fulfil his project that is looking at increasing ecological literacy in farmers, as well as improving biodiversity on farms based on climate change models.
With all this happening, it’s rare that Kate and Iain aren’t busy. However, this time of year is easily one of the busiest. With kidding now finished, cheese making kicks into full production. They milk their girls once a day, in the morning, with each doe giving around 2 litres of milk for cheese making. Following milking, mums and kids are reunited, and they then go out into the paddocks as a herd where they browse all day. The goats return to the dairy at dusk, and are shedded, sleeping on a composting hay floor that keeps them warm. The kids have access to their own shed and form a huge snuggle puddle!
And with the start of milking comes new season Tongola Cheese. The Fields produce five different types of cheese. Curdy is a fresh goat curd that is best eaten soon after purchase. Kate and Iain use this cheese in everything – for breakfast on toast, on pizza and pasta, in lunchtime salads, and being unsalted, it also finds its way into desserts such as cakes, tarts and muffins. Capris is a silky-smooth cheese, close in nature to a chèvre or feta but not as salty, while Zoé is a fresh lactic curd cheese with a punchy geotrichum rind. They are both quick maturing cheeses, so along with Curdy they are very much in season now.
If you prefer camembert-style, you need to try Bloom, a soft, white creamy cheese that oozes when fully ripe. Early in the season, Iain makes Big B, an alpine style, semi-hard cheese, but as this one takes four months to mature, it only becomes available in the New Year.
You can buy Tongola Cheese at their stalls at Farm Gate Market and the Bream Creek Farmers Market, through local retailers and at restaurants throughout the region. So, stop kidding around, head out and get your hands on fresh, seasonal Tassie cheese.
Apple and Goat Cheese Salad
Kate’s favourite recipe is super simple. Slice a couple of organic apples, serve with Zoe cheese and a twist of black pepper. Easy!