After a long day spent sipping locally-roasted coffee on a tropical plantation, taste testing Maui-made wine on a private lanai, enjoying panoramic lunch views from the slopes of a volcano, and visiting one of the island’s top produce stands, the thought of sampling handcrafted, small batch goat milk caramel sauces, ‘Goatlato’ ice cream and Chèvre on a 5-acre private farm tour at Haleakala Creamery sounds a lot like torture. And by torture, we of course mean delightful, tropical, snack-filled heaven.
This month, we’re thrilled to present our next Take 5 Interview with Haleakala Creamery Owner, Rebecca Woodburn-Rist, the oh-so-talented visionary — along with her partner and keiki — behind Maui’s best ‘farm-to-spoon’ craft creations.
Take 5 with: Rebecca Woodburn-Rist of Haleakala Creamery
Q: How did you end up on Maui, and what are the advantages of living in Hawaii when it comes to the boutique farming industry?
REBECCA: “I’ve mostly lived in the Hawaiian islands since 2000. When I met my husband Dylan, I briefly left Hawaii to live with him in Atlanta. When it was time to move back, we decided that Maui would be a great fit for our lifestyle. My Uncle also lives here, and it’s always a nice perk to be around family.
The real key to being a successful small farmer on Maui is the tourism industry. The visitors we meet on Maui all want to take home a small reminder of a wonderful vacation. Being a farmer on such a small, isolated island gives us that peace of mind knowing we are providing food for the community.”
Q: What’s your philosophy when it comes to crafting farm-to-spoon caramel sauces, ‘Goatlato’ ice cream and Chèvre?
REBECCA: “The simplicity in both ingredients and recipes is really why I started our ice cream farm. I love the idea of using just the basics to create common foods found in everyone’s fridge and pantry. Ice cream shouldn’t have mysterious ingredients, and our Caramel is just a reduction of goat milk and cane sugar, both things that can be farmed.”
Q: We’ve read that you’re committed to “improving herd traits for premium milk production, health, and good behavior.” Can you go into a little more detail about what that means?
REBECCA: “It’s important to have healthy, good milk-producing goats because it makes everything much easier. I prefer to have one goat that produces one-and-a-half gallons of milk per day than two goats producing three-fourths of a gallon each.
Additionally, if a goat has better resistance to parasites, they don’t require as much medical intervention. Since they are producing milk for consumption, I prefer to not use any medications. I have imported breeding stock from the mainland to improve and diversify my herd.
Good behaviour is an aspect to breed for, too, because the kids seem to pick up on the characteristics of their moms. You can often tell which goat belongs to who just by how they act within the herd.“
Q: Who — or where — do you look to for inspiration for Haleakala Creamery?
REBECCA: “I typically look to other value-added goat farmers across the country, and even around the world. I like to know that if they can do it, so can I. I also look to local companies that are successful within our community. I find inspiration everywhere, including outside of my own farming and food industry.“
Q: What special projects do you have planned for the coming year?
REBECCA: “Building additional goat shelters has been on my list for some time, and I really hope we can check that off in the near future! With our mild climate it’s easy to not make it a priority, but goats absolutely abhor rain and look miserable if any rain drops dare to touch them. We are also hoping to attend the Made in Hawaii Festival on Oahu in 2020.”
Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of the business?
REBECCA: “I love watching people taste our products and smile, either because they love it, or because it’s better than they expected. Each time it’s always a special reminder of why we do what we do.“
Q: Give us two cool facts about yourself, your family, or your goats & general assortment of pets. Go!
REBECCA: “Several of my goats are purebred Nubians, and any of them born on our ranch have to get an ear tattoo for identification. My registered herd tattoo is Maui.
All photos courtesy of Haleakala Creamery.
Mighty mahalos to Rebecca & family for participating! Reserve a spot on our Upcountry Tasting Tour for a visit to Haleakala Creamery to sample Rebecca’s delectable, locally-crafted caramels, ‘Goatlato’ and Chèvre.