A warm Natchez breeze gently rustles the leaves, as a field of goats grace the landscape below. Stoically poised amongst the peaceful flock lies Mya, one of three Great Pyrenees who watches over Bonnie Blue Farm. Amongst her, are Nubian and Saanens, goats and kids, frolicking full of delight in a field warmed and nourished by the summer sun. All of this peace is entrusted to the wise beyond her two years, Mya. There is something heartwarming about this sweet farm scene, as well as the couple who owns and runs it.
Jim and Gayle Tanner are the proud owners of Bonnie Blue Farm (www.BonnieBlueFarm.com), located in Waynesboro, Tennessee. As you make your way through the establishment, the grassy green scenery is scattered with rustic wood buildings built by the couple. A combination of hard work and knowledge helped established the farm three years ago, and most recently the fruits of their labor has yielded a 28 foot deep underground cheese-aging cave, that boasts 1,000 square feet, currently the only one in Tennessee. The goats provide the milk and then the Tanners begin the age-old process of making cheese. The cave is used to allow the cheese to cure, build, and ripen the flavor and texture that goat cheese is highly regarded for.
Although the farm is relatively new, Gayle has been in the cheese making industry since the early 1970’s and studied at the renowned Culinary Institute of Nappa Valley, California. Goat cheese is healthier and more easily digestible, making it a tasty choice, and a health savvy alternative to dairy based cheeses. The Tanners sell the farmstead cheese at local farmers’ markets as well as directly from the farm. When asking Jim why it is important or even necessary to buy locally produced cheese, Jim says, “You know where it comes from, when buying cheese in stores you don’t always know that. A lot of times it comes from a long ways away and it’s not fresh.”
After enjoying a piece of Bonnie Blue’s goat cheese, you too will see the difference in freshness and smile as kids play in the sunny field while Mya tirelessly looks on. There is something simple and romantic about the relationship between land, animal, and person, all of which is explored and utilized right near you and me. Who knows, you might even see Mya catching an afternoon nap under the cool shade of a tree.
By Rebecca Marquis