One of our favorite parts of the Belmont Estate Tour was The Goat Dairy.
The Grenada Goat Dairy is a small non-profit organization that began as a grassroots effort led by Christine Curry in 2007. It is run solely by volunteers and has grown to “support and empower the local farmers of Grenada by providing a living example and training facility for quality goat dairy farming and production.” This project supports sustainable farming and economic growth for the people of Grenada and was purposefully built up in the mountains of St. Patrick’s parish, the parish with the most poverty and highest unemployment. Over the years it has literally changed the lives of the local farmers.
The Goat Dairy opened its doors and started selling fresh goat cheese five years ago along with locally spiced milk, pudding, yogurt and ice cream. Composted fertilizer is also a byproduct of this operation and sold to local farmers, gardeners and landscapers. These items alone are enough to sustain only 50% of the operation. Though it’s not nearly enough, but for a young business in the West Indies, that’s actually pretty remarkable.
TGD has partnered with St. Patrick’s Anglican Public School for what is called The Kid to Kid Program. Healthy kids (baby goats) from The Goat Dairy are moved up to the St. Anglican Public School, where they will remain for a year or so. They have created a fully functioning goat farm at the school, complete with barn and milk production capacity. The facility provides both hands-on and classroom activities, where the students learn the responsibilities associated with animal care, growing their own food, composting and record-keeping. Meet the residents of The Goat Dairy at Belmont Estate: During our short stay in Grenada we had the opportunity to meet many of the wonderful locals that live here year-round. Marti, now a very dear friend, is what you could call a ‘surrogate nanny’ for the babies from TGD. She and her husband Danny have many years worth of practical livestock experience and they have volunteered their time, their home and their love to care for the kids in need. They also care for older goats that are failing to thrive which might need hands-on TLC. They always try to step in before a bad condition worsens.
Baby C, their most recent baby, was a bit of a special case. She and her sister were born outside of the normal kidding time this past July. Christine had just gotten back to the island a month earlier and called Marti because she felt that the biggest one, Baby C, just wasn’t “right.”
She couldn’t walk or stand very well and they suspected she had either been stepped on accidentally by Mama Rudy or had been born with or picked up a bacterial infection at birth. It happens fairly frequently, unfortunately.
So, Marti took her home.
In October we had the pleasure of joining Marti as she returned Baby C to the farm and said her goodbyes. Baby C had grown to literally be her ‘baby’ from the age of one month to three. We got to see Baby C run around Marti’s property like a wound-up puppy. She darted across the trails that led up the hillside and bounced all around with an incredible amount of energy! She was fully nursed back to good health. The long ride up to The Goat Dairy required quite a few stops along the way. Baby C rode in a large dog crate where she was safe, but she DID NOT like the motion. She was on the verge of getting car sick. She didn’t have any accidents in the car and politely waited until she was outside to do her business. She sure enjoyed all the pit-stops! When we arrived, there were a lot of good smells. She must have heard ‘the songs of her people’ as Marti would say. Very inquisitively, Baby C set out to investigate though she didn’t stray too far from Marti. Baby C’s real mama and Marti had a very heartfelt moment as the baby was brought home. Of course everyone else got some treats… Several other babies were there, though MUCH smaller than Baby C. These little guys were just one week old! How cute is this little tongue? Marti and Danny also started connecting with the vet school students at SGU, especially those that are interested in large animal care. SGU is the local university with a Medical program as well as a fantastic Vet program.
Each term, there is often a group of students interested in the Kid Foster Program. Marti and Danny will host a class at their home to go over what a human goat nanny does in the course of the day. If it’s not too overwhelming for them by the end of the session, the students can sign up to be foster nannies. Last year there was a total of three foster nannies for The Goat Dairy kids.
Soon, Marti and Danny will only be in Grenada during the kidding season. Because of this, volunteer support for The Goat Dairy and the Kid Foster Program will be desperately needed. Not only do they need financial support, but they need boots on the ground helping out.
Please take a few moments to watch this video that tells all about The Goat Dairy. It’s narrated by our friend Thelma, the Cheesemaker!
If you would like to show some support to this wonderful non-profit organization, please visit their website at http://thegoatdairy.org/
To see our tour of Belmont Estate Part 1 (The Scenery), click HERE.
To see our tour of Belmont Estate Part 2 (Cocoa Beans and Nutmeg), click HERE.