The Story of Fraga Farm
In 1918, newlywed Agnes Gloria Fraga left her job at a cannery in Gilroy, California to join her husband Josph Fraga on his farm in Castro Valley. Agnes farmed the beautiful land with a view of San Francisco for most of the century running cattle, sheep and goats and growing all of their food. The bay area grew around the farm, and finally in 1980, Fraga Farm had to make room for Hwy 580. In the words of Agnes Fraga, "The state came along and said progress must go on and took the house. Now four pillars stand where Fraga Farm once was."
Agnes was a pioneer in many ways. She used organic practices instead of "modern methods" and strived to live in harmony with the land. She had a close bond with her animals, caring for them deeply. Jan spent much of her childhood at the farm and wanted nothing more than to be a farmer like her grandmother.
Jan and Larry lived on the farm when the freeway came, and it took 15 years until they found their dream land in Oregon. It is far away from any freeway, right on the river and perfect for raising goats. Jan and Larry set to work raising goats holistically and became Oregon's first goat dairy to be certified through Oregon Tilth. Organically raised goats give fabulous milk, and over the years, Jan and Larry developed a range of cheeses that are now well known and sought after. Jan and Larry named their Farmstead Goat Dairy "Fraga Farm" in honor of Jan's Grandmother and her way of farming.
When Steve and Elisabeth took over the herd from Jan and Larry in the spring of 2012 and with it the production of the cheeses, they recognized that Fraga Farm is not a physical place but a state of mind - a way of living with land and goats. A way of nurturing grass, that nurtures goats that give milk, that is transformed into cheese that is not only good to eat, it is good all around.
With that in mind there are more changes afoot. Steve and Elisabeth are moving the production and herd to their larger farm in Washington County in order to provide the goats with more pasture and rotational grazing. Once Fraga Farmstead Creamery is all settled in we hope for many visitors. Our location is just thirty minutes west of Portland, bringing the food closer to the people.
Fraga Farmstead Creamery is located in Gales Creek Valley, a tributary of the Tualatin River, half an hour west of Portland. We share the valley with vineyards, orchards and other organic farms and look forward to farm to table dinners with locally sourced produce. These pictures were taken during a perfect spring sunday afternoon. We took the goats for a walk in a neighboring clover field. They were mostly interested in the cow peas that were interspersed with the purple clover.
Nestled behind three enormous walnut trees, Fraga Farm's iconic red barn pays homage to the farm's past life as a small cow dairy. Some aspects of the previous dairy still remain, like the cement milk cooling troughs which are still present in the old milk parlor. In 2015, the farm welcomed a new dairy addition, two years in the making. The new facility, attached to the existing red barn, includes a beautiful new cheesemaking room, in-line milking system and milk storage area, packaging room, walk-in cooler, and cheese cave (because every Cheesemaker needs their cave). We love our old, red barn and are working hard to preserve its charm while restoring it.
The team at Fraga Farmstead Creamery consists of Steve Monahan (the Cheesemaker) & Elisabeth Bueschen-Monahan (the Herd Manager) along with a handful of employees, interns, and WWOOFers. Although running a dairy means working long hours, Fraga strives to give the staff a valuable and hands-on experience on a small scale farm. Educating and inspiring all who work at Fraga is our most important goal so that we can increase the small farming community. Email us for more information on WWOOF work-exchanges.