How has this Indiana goat dairy and creamery made such a big splash in the world of cheese? Tim gives a nod to the goats.
“Most cheesemakers will say it all starts with good milk, so that’s our focus,” said Tim, who manages the herd with his wife, Sheena, on their farm in Martinsville, Indiana. “We have 40 years’ experience raising goats, learning what goats need to be healthy and to produce good milk.”
It’s no surprise, then, that prize-winning cheese comes from prize-winning goats. Their herd is mostly composed of Nubians, but they have a few Saanens and Sables too. The Vanzants have been recognized by the Indiana State Fair 20 times as premier breeders and premier exhibitors. They’ve had 40 Indiana State Fair grand champion goats and multiple national champions at the American Dairy Goat Association show.
Those accolades come with a lot of hard work on farm. The Vanzants milk goats twice a day — a five-hour labor of love that takes no holidays.
“On Christmas morning we milk the goats and then we come in and open presents,” Tim said. “We’ve milked every day since 2016.”
In addition to the daily work on the farm, the Vanzants have spent countless hours promoting their product at farmers markets throughout the region. In 2015, they began selling cheese at the Bloomington Community Farmers Market and the City Market in Indianapolis. Two years later, they set up booths at nine different markets each week, trying to get their name out and build a customer base.
“I was making cheese in the morning, flavoring cheese, packing it and then taking off for the markets in the afternoon,” Sheena said. “We stayed up many nights trying to get ready for the markets in the early years.”
In 2023, the Vanzants are participating in three farmers markets during the summer — the Carmel Farmers Market, the Franklin Farmers Market and the Bloomington Woolery Farmers’ Market — as well as the Indy Winter Farmers Market.
Goat cheese has become more commonplace in recent years at American restaurants, popular as a topping on artisan pizzas or in salads at high-end eateries. Even so, many consumers haven’t tried goat cheese and they aren’t sure how to cook with it. Some have a preconceived notion they won’t like its flavor. To alleviate that concern, the Vanzants provide a hands-on experience at the farmers markets.
“We sample every product we sell at every farmers market we participate in. We’ve given thousands and thousands of samples over the years,” Tim said. “And I wish we had people’s reaction on video. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who are sure they don’t like goat cheese, but they’re surprised how they like our cheese.”
Top sellers are fresh plain chevre, the traditional soft goat cheese. The chevre is also flavored for savory and sweet variations such as roasted garlic, herbs de Provence, chipotle, strawberry cream, blueberry cream and others. They have seasonal flavored favorites such as pumpkin in the fall.
In addition to their chevre varieties, the Vanzants also sell feta, cheddar, gateway semi-soft goat cheese and gochego, which is a goat’s milk version of manchego. And for the sweet tooth, they make a goat’s milk caramel sauce that goes great on ice cream or yogurt.
The Vanzants plan to expand their products to bottled goat milk this summer, and Tim has a dream to offer drinkable goat’s milk yogurt one day.
“I love drinkable yogurt, but I’d like to make a healthier version because many of them are high in sugar,” Tim said. “When we started making our own cheese, we paid more attention to what goes into our foods, and we began choosing a healthier, more local way of eating. That’s what we do as a family and that’s what we want to offer with our products.”
To learn more about Risin’ Creek Creamery or to buy products, go to risincreek.com. Visit them at one of three farmers markets this summer: Carmel Farmers Market, Franklin Farmers Market and the Bloomington Woolery Farmers' Market.