Our History

Why Haystack Mountain cheese?

First off, it’s just delicious. Our cheesemaker Jackie Chang and her team have the patience, skill and sense of adventure to create cheeses known for their clean, fresh flavor profiles, free of “goaty” aftertaste. Even if you’ve shied away from goat cheese in the past, give Haystack’s a try. We can’t keep track of how many goat cheese converts we’ve won over with our wares.

Second, all Haystack Mountain cheeses are handmade and free of additives or preservatives. We use the highest quality microbial (aka vegetarian) rennet, traditional cheesemaking techniques, and our cheeses are free of preservatives and artificial flavors. Nothing but pure delicious fat and protein.

Third, goat milk is better for your body. Its fat structures are smaller, making goat cheese more digestible than cheese made with cow’s milk. This allows people with digestive challenges to enjoy a delectable bite of cheese (a pleasure no one should be denied). Goat’s milk is also a sound source of calcium, protein, potassium, thiamin, niacin, and vitamin A. Delicious and what your body needs? Yep, a true miracle food.

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Humble Beginnings

How did Haystack get its start?

Back in 1988, founder Jim Schott and his wife bought five goats (four does and a buck) and cultivated a modest 6-acre farmstead in Niwot, Colorado. Haystack Mountain lay in view just to the north, and after he’d made his first delicious chevre, Jim couldn’t think of a better emblem for what he set out to build.

Jim incorporated the company in 1989 and started selling his homemade chevre to restaurants and farmers markets in and around Boulder County. Haystack Mountain goat cheeses first appeared in Alfalfa’s markets in 1992, and Haystack won its first award the same year. In the mid-nineties Haystack cheeses came to the table in white-tablecloth restaurants. No doubt, Jim’s humble, hand-wrought cheeses were finding appeal with a wider range of tastes.

The new millennium ushered in more and more orders for Haystack’s expanding menu of cheeses. We fashioned our first raw milk cheese in 2002. Two years later, Haystack opened its creamery in Longmont, and in 2005, our products started appearing in some of the nation’s finest cheese cases. By 2007, we’d expanded our creamery to keep up with demand, and the next year we began purchasing goat milk from our new partners at the Skyline Correctional Facility dairy in Cañon City.

A Partnership Born

Haystack Mountain & Skyline Correctional Facility

We established this partnership with CCI (Colorado Correctional Industries) in 2007, just as our need for goat milk was growing. Haystack Mountain needed a consistent, quality source of milk. CCI had the means (the farmland, equipment, and strong-willed human power and spirit) to get a Colorado dairy up and running, and the results have been incredible–inmates learn valuable skills they can use for gainful employment in dairies, production facilities, farms and ranches upon release; Haystack gains a regional source of high-quality, efficiently and ethically produced goat’s milk; and CCI’s proceeds from this and other programs reduce incarceration costs, saving Colorado taxpayers millions each year.

For more on the program, check out these articles from The Denver Post and Culture magazine.

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