Redwood Hill Farm Goat Dairy started by the Bice Family
The goat dairy at Redwood Hill had roots in the “back to the land” movement, when in 1964 our parents Kenneth and Cynthia moved their family from urban southern California to rural Sebastopol, Sonoma County, California.
As children, we were accustomed to the sounds of city traffic, skating on sidewalks and proximity to Disneyland. However, we slowly adjusted to living in the rural countryside. Membership in the Sonoma County 4-H chapters, a national hands-on agricultural youth organization, introduced us to farm animals of all sorts. Goats – engaging, smart and personable animals – became the favorites of many us, and we raised them as our 4-H project. The goat herd steadily grew, and as a result in 1968 we built a Grade A dairy to supply raw goat milk, packaged in glass bottles, to area health food stores. Redwood Hill Farm Goat Dairy was born.
Jennifer assumes ownership of Redwood Hill Farm
As we grew up, most of my brothers and sisters developed other interests and moved on; and as a result, the family dairy closed. The eldest of the Bice siblings, I remained in Sebastopol with my dairy goat herd while attending college and business school. Meanwhile in the 1970s, I met Steven Schack, a fellow southern California-to-Sonoma County transplant. When my parents moved to Hawaii with the younger siblings, Steven and I married and became business partners. We purchased the Redwood Hill Farm goat dairy and consequently re-launched the Redwood Hill Farm business. In doing so, we brought together two herds: Steven’s “Compañeros” herd of Saanen, LaMancha, Alpine and Toggenburg dairy goats; and mine consisting of Alpines, Nubians, and LaManchas. Redwood Hill Farm became the home of the newly combined herds.
20 years of passion and hard work
During the late 1970s to the late 1990s, we worked nonstop developing the business while enjoying our shared passion for dairy goats. We were proud of the recognition when in 1982 we were awarded the “Premier Breeder of Show” at the National Dairy Goat Show. (Redwood Hill Farm has gone on to win that coveted honor on six subsequent occasions.) Dairy goat breeding continues to be an important component of the business. As a result, we supply nationally renowned breeding stock and dairy goat semen to dairy goat farmers around the United States. Learn more about the prize-winning dairy goats of Redwood Hill with Farm Manager Scott Bice, my youngest brother.
Sadly, after a brief illness, Steven died in 1999 of pancreatic cancer. To honor his memory, we still uses the Compañeros herd name for our Saanen herd, his favorite breed.
Jennifer builds the Redwood Hill Farm Creamery
At the turn of the century, the herd continued to increase in size. In addition, awareness of the health benefits of goat milk and its great taste increased as well. To meet ever-increasing demand for our products, in 2004 I built a state-of-the-art creamery in Sebastopol. We produced award-winning artisan cheese and cultured dairy products including yogurt and kefir. Today, Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery products are widely distributed to natural and specialty stores throughout the United States.
After almost 40 years of leading and growing the Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery business, I found the right partner to carry on the business so that I could retire and our wonderful goat milk products could continue to be available to our loyal customers. In 2015 the over 100-year old Swiss dairy company Emmi took the helm. Emmi is a highly regarded, majority-owned cooperative of small-scale dairy farmers. Most importantly for me, they matched our business values of quality and sustainability. Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, now a part of Emmi’s dairy business, remains a premier presence in the Sonoma County community today.
Back to our roots: the goat dairy and so much more
I fully retain the original Redwood Hill Farm property and animals as my farm business. Today, the farm also known as Capracopia, is home to dairy goats, an olive grove, hop yard, fruit orchard, flower field, vegetable garden, and chicken flock. Coming full circle, several of my siblings and the next generation — two nieces and a nephew — are involved. As a result, farm life and artisan food production at Redwood Hill Farm ~ Capracopia continues to thrive.