Califonia Bountiful

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese

Family reunites to produce award-winning cheese

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They say you can't go home again, but for the Giacomini sisters, when Dad asks, you come home; no questions asked.

"We call him the big cheese around here for a reason," said daughter Lynn Giacomini. "And when he asks us to do something, we do it!"

The remote coastal community of Point Reyes, in Marin County, has been home to the Giacomini family for nearly half a century. Bob Giacomini and his family own and operate the Robert Giacomini Dairy. In 2000 they opened the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., which brought all four of his daughters—Jill, Karen, Lynn and Diana—back to the farm to help in the growing family business.

All the milk for their artisan cheeses comes from about 300 cows that graze in the countryside at the family's 700-acre dairy. Believing the quality of the milk and cheese starts with the grass, the family has committed to careful land management. The farm is certified organic and uses rotational grazing, which keeps grasses and soils healthy, as well as no-till practices on all fields, so the natural fertilizer can absorb into the soil without runoff while decreasing erosion.

"Because it says 'farmstead' on the label, it means it comes from our land," Giacomini said, "so we are deeply committed to caring for the land."

One of the biggest challenges any dairy has is managing wastewater. In 2009, the Giacominis installed a methane digester that converts methane gas—a byproduct of manure—into useable energy that powers the dairy and cheese plant. They also compost their solid manure and sell some to a local compost company that in turn sells it to nurseries and other farmers.

"Our land has been very good to us and we consider it our duty and honor to return the favor," Giacomini said.

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