Erin Bligh '10
Ever think about what makes food special? The actual story of what you’re eating?
Erin Bligh '10 does. The tale of food going from farm to table is one she’s living as owner-operator of Dancing Goats Dairy in Newbury, Mass.
Her story, and that of the goat cheese she makes, began at Union.
“It was an amazing collection of people and they made me think about things that I never would’ve even dreamed of,” she said of the theme house, which brings together environmentally conscious students. “I got very swept up in it.”
She also became a habitual customer of Schenectady Green Market. Bligh loved talking to vendors there and buying local, fresh products. And she loved—sometimes to her own surprise—trying new things, both in Schenectady and abroad.
While studying in Rennes, France, her host mother made a plate of blue cheese (which she assumed she would despise since she had grown up on Land O’ Lakes). Bligh remembers that moment like it was yesterday—it was then she realized she wasn’t going pursue a standard career.
“I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life,’” Bligh said. “It completely revolutionized how I wanted to eat. Not only did I want to eat something fresh, I wanted to eat something that I could make myself, and I wanted to make something that was as good as all these things that I was tasting.”
After graduation, living in Boston with her father, she decided to enroll in a farm internship program (similar to WWOOF) that provides room and board in return for labor. She spent three months as a kidding intern (delivering baby goats), then seven months as a cheese-making assistant at Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vt., where she discovered she wanted to farm goats for the rest of her life.
In January 2012, Bligh began renting her farm in Newbury and raising her own goat herd (starting with two she was able to take with her from Consider Bardwell). By 2015, she was milking 14 goats and selling her products (cheese, caramel, fudge and soap) at her farm stand, local stores and farmers markets.
Its success that still seems a little surreal.
“I have moments where I look around and think, ‘I built this, this is my life,’” Bligh said. “It's spectacular and so gratifying.”
Particularly because she’s living—and telling—the story of food through her artisan products, which people are happily gobbling up around the Newbury region.