April 9, 2021
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Stickney Hill’s The Humble Goat brand expands flavors, honors community

Photo courtesy of Stickney Hill Dairy
SWEET AND HUMBLE — Stickney Hill Dairy launched The Humble Goat, its national retail brand, soon after opening its state-of-the-art production facility in Kimball, Minnesota. The company has introduced new flavored Chevres under The Humble Goat brand, including its popular sweet dessert line. 

Photo courtesy of Stickney Hill Dairy

LOCAL FAVORITE — The original and award-winning Stickney Hill brand is geared toward the local retail market as well as foodservice. Chefs especially like to use Stickney Hill’s Plain Chevre, which lends itself to diverse menu applications.

By Rena Archwamety

ROCKVILLE, Minn. — Named after the location where it all started, Stickney Hill Dairy was founded in 1999. Growing up on a dairy farm, David Lenzmeier saw growing demand for goat milk and transitioned into goat farming with a friend after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. In 2004, Lenzmeier took over operations of the Kimball, Minnesota, goat farm, and with his wife, Frankie, started to grow their goat’s milk cheesemaking business from a farmstead plant located at the bottom of Stickney Hill.

A year later, the Lenzmeiers decided to sell their herd of goats to local producers, buying their milk and focusing solely on cheese production.

“Back in the day, we were selling locally to co-ops in Minnesota, local distributors and restaurants,” says Frankie Lenzmeier, co-owner, Stickney Hill Dairy. “Chefs started to really like it. It was the beginning of the farm-to-table movement, and it was wonderful that local businesses could create and share their artisinal cheeses.”

They started with four flavors of Chevre under the Stickney Hill brand — Plain, Honey, Tomato Basil and Garlic and Herb — and over the years have greatly expanded their flavors, production and distribution.

• The Humble Goat

To accommodate the growing demand as well as maintain top-quality production of its cheeses, Stickney Hill Dairy moved to Rockville, Minnesota, and broke ground on a new state-of-the-art plant in 2015. With the new location and growing product line, the company decided to launch a new brand. Giving homage to the community of Rockville, The Humble Goat brand was born.

“We thought of the Rockville community and its humble people, and therefore came up with The Humble Goat,” Lenzmeier says, noting that they also chose to keep their award-winning Stickney Hill brand, which had gained a large following among the local community and foodservice.

“The Stickney Hill brand is beloved in our local community, especially by the chefs, so we did not want to change that,” she says. “Stickney Hill is more of a foodservice brand and a local family retail brand. The Humble Goat is more of our national family brand, with more flavors, as well as our sweet dessert line.”
Plain Chevre, which has won numerous awards, has been the company’s most successful product in both foodservice and retail for the two brands. Honey also is very popular for both brands, as are other sweet flavors.

“We keep hearing people talking about the new flavors on social media, like Rolled Cranberry and Wild Blueberry,” Lenzmeier says. “The sweet dessert flavors are popular right now — people say they will eat the entire 4-ounce log in one sitting!”

Stickney Hill Dairy also has had much success with its Crumbled Goat Cheese, which is available from 5-pound foodservice packages all the way down to 4-ounce crumbles for retail. The company always has offered crumbles, and now with its new factory has brought crumble production in-house.

• Quality production

The Rockville plant is unique in that it has been certified to the highest-possible SQF rating by the Safe Quality Food Institute, something not often seen in goat cheese production.

“The No. 1 reason we decided to build the new plant was to maintain the quality and safety of the milk as we were growing,” Lenzmeier says. “One of our goals was to have that SQF certification. They came in, and our standards were all there.”

In addition to its high quality standards, the cheese plant also features a geothermal system throughout the facility that provides cost savings while not taking away from the energy grid; an advanced HVAC air handling system with about five air changers and HEPA filters; and energy-saving LED lights.

“We did a lot of work as far as keeping in mind quality, safety, and all that goes into food manufacturing,” says Glen Wood, general manager, Stickney Hill Dairy. “We’re able to produce a high-quality product at a large rate.

We’re able to do this because of some of the thought that went into the original construction of the facility. As far as our goat milk quality goes, we have excellent quality, far above state standards. That directly reflects in our product. We have a very clean and smooth Chevre.”

Stickney Hill currently sources its milk from about 56 producers throughout Minnesota. It has long maintained its own Happy Goat Program to ensure a shared dedication to animal welfare among all its producers. The program is focused on shelter, nutrition, medical care and general treatment of the animals.

“The goats have to have adequate access to shelter, and bedding is changed regularly. Animal products aren’t fed to the goats. The animals are all separated, with proper pastures outside,” Lenzmeier says.

“People tend to buy our cheese because it’s award-winning and has clean, less goaty flavors,” she adds. “It’s a clean, creamy, sweet taste. Before the pandemic, we did a lot of blind tastings with competitors’ products. Most of our team members were able to immediately identify our product.”

• Care for the community

This past year, the business made changes and took extra safety precautions to serve its customers and keep its employees healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Wood notes that while the cheese typically is sold half into retail and half in foodservice channels, the split more recently has been about 80% retail and 20% foodservice.

“In the last 12-16 months, we have been producing more retail,” he says.

“We did a lot of work when the pandemic first hit, with social distancing and spaces,” Wood adds. “We were successful over these last 12 months, with no cases within the plant. We locked down the plant and made sure nobody visited. We kept our employees safe. We were able to deliver at a 100% fulfillment rate.”

Outside of the company and its products, Stickney Hill Dairy maintains a strong relationship with its community, local schools and nonprofits through its mission of “Social Grace.”

“Giving to the community is huge for us, especially with schools and students who are curious about the agriculture business,” Lenzmeier says.

The company offers an annual scholarship program for students interested in pursuing agriculture and/or food science courses of study. Additionally, because Dave and Frankie Lenzmeier have had relatives with disabilities, they have chosen the Hendrickson Foundation, which provides hockey programs for those with physical or developmental disabilities, as one of the major nonprofits they support.

Lenzmeier and Wood note that Stickney Hill Dairy has distinguished itself as a family-owned dairy that truly cares for the community and for its customers.

“Being involved and working so closely with the owners and the family, what sets us apart is our passion when working with customers, and I think people see that,” Wood says. “As a family-owned business, we’re able to provide that personal touch to all our customers and potential customers, and they see a difference there.”



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