The Stories of Ohio’s Women Dairy Farmers

In 2002, Abbe Turner and her family bought a farm outside Kent, got some goats and chickens, and then pondered “What now?”

The answer was to make cheese, she says. Lucky Penny Farm & Creamery received its cheese-making license in 2010, and since then, Lucky Penny has built a name and reputation throughout Northeast Ohio’s culinary and food community for its high-quality goat cheeses and goat milk caramel sauce.

But Abbe is the first to admit she’s made many mistakes, some so costly that they almost ended the business. It’s the hope that others can learn from her mistakes and successes, as well as those of other Ohio women dairy farmers, in her new book, The Land of Milk and Money. The book was co-written with her daughter, Madeline, and was published in July.

“Rural Action in Athens is about building local economies, and they started a women-in-dairy initiative for peer-to-peer education,” Abbe explains. “This came out of their entrepreneur kit for small farm-based businesses.”

She sent emails to 100 Ohio women dairy farmers, and invited those who responded to share their stories. The result is 17 distinctive first-person narratives from women throughout the state, offering a detailed snapshot of how they began, what drives them, and what gives them satisfaction.

The book’s nearly 50-page appendix contains lots of nuts-and- bolts advice on such things as licensing requirements, food safety, budgeting and branding, with copious contact information for resources for the aspiring dairy farmer—and even a reading list. Even if you have no plans to buy a farm, the women’s stories are inspiring and entertaining reading for anyone interested in building a healthy, sustainable food system and supporting local farmers and producers as a consumer.

“Some of this came about because of the dairy farm crisis in Ohio,” Abbe says. “Farms are disappearing—one closes every day. So, we asked how we can help them grow their business instead of closing it.”

The book is available for purchase at ArtisanDairy.com.