Risin’ Creek Creamery Produces Award-Winning Cheese and Goats
This month, I am happy to feature another one of the Carmel Farmers Market’s vendors: Risin’ Creek Creamery. The Vanzant family — Tim and Sheena — are the third generation of current owners and are proud vendors at the Carmel Farmers Market for the fourth year. They, along with their son Cole and Tim’s parents, Dana and Diann [Vanzant], actively run the generational farm and produce some of the world’s finest products from goat milk that is exclusively produced on their farm from their own herd of goats. No steroids, artificial hormones, preservatives or anti-caking agents are added to their products.
I spoke with Tim Vanzant about how he got into raising goats, the family’s generational farm and the farm’s expansion into a now world-renowned creamery.
A Brief History of Risin’ Creek Creamery
The Risin’ Creek Creamery is located just outside of Martinsville, Ind., in a picturesque Hoosier river valley. Vanzant’s grandparents, Frank and Iola Nungester, purchased the property when the original Downey Farmstead was dispersed. For decades, the property was primarily used for pig and cattle grazing. Vanzant shared that there are remnants of the tenant farmhouse on the property, and there is a root cellar built into a hill that is behind the family’s goat barn.
“Going back to when I was a child, I lived in this farming community [outside of Martinsville], and I spent a lot of time on one neighbor’s small Jersey dairy cow farm,” Vanzant shared. “I wanted to start showing some type of livestock in 4-H, and I migrated towards goats. I showed goats throughout my childhood, and I never gave it up.”
Running the creamery is a family affair. Vanzant and his wife run the creamery along with the help of their 13-year-old son Cole, and Vanzant’s parents are active in the daily operations as well. Vanzant’s mother creates soap and lotion products, which are made from the goat milk that is produced by their [goat] herd, as well as high quality oils and other natural ingredients.
Raising and Showing Award-Winning Goats
What started out as a hobby show herd evolved into an award-winning venture for Vanzant and his goats. Vanzant and his family have traveled throughout the country showing their prize-winning goats at national shows.
“I’ve seen more of the country with the trailer and goats behind me than I’ve seen it any other way,” Vanzant said. “Most of our vacation travel was goat related. We’re five-time national champions — for either Grand Champion or Reserve Grand Champion — at the national shows and have earned Premier Breeder and Reserve Breeder as well.”
Vanzant’s goats have earned Grand Champion at the Indiana State Fair at least 40 times and Premier Breeder and Exhibitor at the state fair 18 times.
“It’s humbling to sit back and talk about it,” Vanzant expressed. “I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years, and at this point, I’ve dedicated my life to raising goats, breeding a better goat and caring for goats. We certainly made the transition from a show hobby herd to a commercial dairy, and the herd has grown exponentially in size. Right now, we’re just north of 200 goats, and we’re milking about 75, making a good amount of milk. We expect our does [female goats] to milk a gallon a day.”
Vanzant shared that 95% of his herd is comprised of registered purebred Nubian goats, and the remainder are Saanen goats. Nubians are known for their long, floppy ears and high, arching nose.
“Saanens are a high production and lower butterfat [breed], and the Nubians don’t produce as much milk but higher butterfat,” Vanzant explained. “There’s also a difference between the [breeds’] personalities, as well as the milk that they produce. The combination of the two [breeds] is a nice balance. The high butterfat is good for cheese-making, and with the higher yield per gallon of milk, I get more cheese from it. We have aspirations of bottling milk, and we’re excited about doing that. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years.”
Beating out major manufacturers of goat cheese, Vanzant is proud to have earned the bronze medal in his class at the World Cheese Championship this past February for his plain fresh chèvre goat cheese.
“We produce multiple flavors of our fresh chèvre,” Vanzant stated. “Our roasted garlic is probably our best seller, and it’s won multiple awards on a national level. Our Tuscany blend has placed well, and our strawberry cream has won the ‘sweet’ category. Our cheese placed above all those that you find in Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme Markets, so that was quite the thrill.”
Supporting Local has Never Been More Important
The Vanzant family appreciates the support of their customers and understands the importance of local supporting local as it pertains to farmers, local farmers markets and local restaurants.
“Having local food is important, and there are more ways to support us than just coming to the market,” Vanzant emphasized. “When you go out to eat, look for a restaurant that is using local food, and put the name of the farm on the menu. We rely a lot on our wholesale accounts to keep us going, as well as local farmers markets.”
Practicing what they preach, the Vanzants have collaborated with their CFM booth neighbor, Maplewood Farms, and use Maplewood’s maple syrup in Risin’ Creek Creamery’s goat milk caramel sauce.
Be sure to stop by Risin’ Creek Creamery’s booth at the Carmel Farmers Market on Saturdays and stay tuned for the launch of the creamery’s brand-new website that will enable customers to purchase items online!
2020 World Cheese Championship, top five, plain goat cheese
2019 US Cheese Championship, 8th Place, flavored goat cheese (roasted garlic)
2019 American Dairy Goat Products National Competition, 2nd Place Plain, 3rd Place Sweet (strawberry cream), 1st & 2nd Place Flavored Semi-soft (roasted garlic, triple p), 2nd Place Confection (original caramel sauce)
2018 American Dairy Goat Products National Competition, 1st Place Plain, 1st & 2nd Place Sweet (strawberry cream, chocolate cherry), 1st & 2nd Savory (roasted garlic and herb, Tuscany), 2nd Place Feta in Oil, 1st & 2nd Confection (vanilla bean caramel sauce, cinnamon caramel sauce)
2017 American Dairy Goat Products National Competition, 3rd Place Savory (roasted garlic and herb), 2nd Place Feta in Oil, 3rd Place Confection (original caramel sauce)
2016 American Dairy Goat Products National Competition, 2nd Place Plain, 1st Place Sweet (honey), 1st & 2nd Place Savory (roasted Garlic and herb, Tuscany), 1st & 2nd Confection (vanilla bean caramel sauce, cinnamon caramel sauce)