January 16th, 2017
Earlier this month, Assistant Market Manager Ivy and I paid a visit to Slow Turtle Farm in Eustis. Farmer Carol Peters and her husband own this little slice of paradise just a short drive from downtown Orlando, where they raise and breed a variety of dairy goats, Gulf Coast Native Sheep, chickens, ducks, and the occasional hog. Carol loves her livestock, and they love her too. During our visit, the goats followed her around the property, looking for treats, pats on the head, and ear scratches. Carol raises Saanen, Nubian, and La Mancha Goats, all carefully selected and bred for the best quality milk production. As her breeding program has grown, so have the prizes at agricultural shows. This helps her sell extra bucks and does for top dollar, contributing to the farm’s business model. On our visit, we learned a lot about the work involved with raising and breeding goats, from pasture management to daily milking, hoof-trimming to birthing. As we walked through the pasture, Carol identified each goat by name, and could tell us his or her entire family tree.
Carol and her husband are hard at work to build out the facilities to make their farm a USDA Grade A dairy, where they’ll be able to produce a variety of fresh and aged goat milk cheeses for sale to consumers, retailers and restaurants. This sort of achievement requires a major investment of time and money, especially for a small farmer, but Slow Turtle Farm is in it for the long haul. For now, they are perfecting their recipes and developing a following, so that their signature products will be ready for success. Carol currently produces a variety of raw milk cheeses,* including fresh and flavored chevres*, fetas*, and her signature Purple Turtle; a bloomy cheese aged in an ash rind. These, along with fresh goat milk* and kefir* are available for direct sales at the market each week. In addition to making cheese, Carol often spins yarn made from her own sheep’s wool, makes farmstead products such as preserves
This time of year, you’re likely to meet one of Carol’s future employees at her market booth. With kidding season well under way, the Slow Turtle Booth at the market usually includes one of the newest baby goats. These goats are raised to work with and be around people, so visits are encouraged!
You can follow Slow Turtle Farm on Facebook for the latest news, and stop by the market to meet the farmer in person!
*As required by the Federal Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and Florida Statute 502.091, which forbid the sale of unpasturized milk products for human consumption, this farm’s products are labeled: “Not for Human Consumption” and sold as “Feed for Animals.”