FACTS AT A GLANCE

Sue with a goat and a milking stool
The milk can Sue is carrying is the same
one that her grandpa used

- Greenbush Farm in St. Johns, Michigan, has 15.6 acres, including a sizable wooded area

- Dolce Vita Goat Dairy has been operating since April 2009, with the motto "20 goats & 1 milkmaid"

- Dolce Vita Dairy produces about 60 pounds of chevre cheese per week

- Sue Spagnuolo currently markets three flavors of her goat cheese (plain, fire-roasted red pepper and maple cinnamon)

- The goat cheese is available at the Meridian Farmers' Market in Okemos (Sat, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.), DeWitt Farmers Market (Tuesday, 5 - 8 p.m.), as well as the Michigan State University Dairy Store, Dusty's Cellar, East Lansing Food Co-op and Lansing City Market

Sue participates in the Michigan Department of Agriculture's Select Michigan program

Select Michigan

Resources on raising goats

Resources on making cheese


Though the price tag is high, this book on goat diseases is an excellent resource for producers and veterinarians

FARM PROFILES

Dolce Vita Goat Dairy at Greenbush Farms:

Sue Spagnuolo launches a career that reflects her values of service and respect for all living things

By Bonnie Bucqueroux

Sue Spagnuolo grew up in an Italian-American farm family outside Grand Ledge, Michigan. As she says in the video, she remembers thinking that living in the country back then made you a "hick." The family's Old World values of hard work and devotion to family often seemed out of synch with the "cool" mainstream culture.

Yet those are the same values and experiences that Sue now cherishes. Not only has she lovingly passed along her family's hard work ethic and dedication to service to her two grown daughters, but that foundation has allowed her to reinvent herself as a new goat cheese entrepreneur.

Like many women, Sue found herself suddenly single, with an empty nest, wondering not only how she would support herself but how to find meaning in a new career. For more than 30 years, Sue had been involed in breeding, showing, judging and training in the cattle and horse industry, ncluding one summer in Wyoming with the Bureau of Land Management spent tracking and mapping wild horses. But was that career something she would be able to do into her fifties, sixties and beyond?

Sue knew she wanted to do something with food, which is so much a part of her heritage. At first, she wanted to cater. But when that didn't work out, Sue let her faith in God guide her toward a new future.

Working with the Product Center at Michigan State University, she connected with experts in farmstead cheesemaking and launched Dolce Vita Goat Dairy in April 2009. She currently produces about 60 pounds of chevre cheese each week and markets her product at area farm markets and through some area foodstores and the Dairy Store at Michigan State University. As she explains in the video, launching the new enterprise is not just about business but about her values. Feedback from her customers confirm that they appreciate her dedication to producing a fresh, tasty product in ways that shows respect for the land and her animals.

Wynsmoor Manor
Sue's aunt asnd cousins demonstrate that goats have been part of the family's heritage for many years

Dolce Vita Goat Dairy stands for tradition and service

Sue created a handout for customers that explains the philosophy behind her new venture:

"Greenbush Farm's Dolce Vita Goat Dairy continues the tradition of southern Italian food, family and community."

"For nearly 100 years, four generations of Spagnuolos have brought to mid-Michigan their gifts of hospitality and food, which beginning with family is what the old world way is all about. Dolce Vita Grade A Goat Dairy is located in Greenbush Township, St. Johns, Clinton County, Michigan, providing mid-Michigan with fresh farmstead goat cheese.

"The cheese is handcrafted, from milking of the goats to carrying the milk from the milking parlor to the cheese processing room. Hand-poured and hand-ladled from the vat, the cheese is hung to drain and scooped by hand to present to you the freshest, smoothest chevre possible. Greenbush Farm’s goals of sustainable living and economic development in promoting local products and services, invites you to enjoy what we believe life should be about: family, community, service and, of course, food."


Michigan Humanities Council This profile of Sue Spagnuolo was developed with grant support from the Michigan Humanities Council (Michigan People, Michigan Places). The MHC theme is "our stories, our lives."