He arrived in Caineville with a walk behind tiller, $2,000, and some hand tools. So began Randy Ramsley’s journey to Caineville and the creation of Mesa Farm Market. Today, Randy sells three kinds of goat cheese, makes fresh bread and vegetables that you can purchase on site, and you’ll probably find yourself eating some its produce when you dine at the restaurants in nearby Torrey.
I’d first run across the market in its earliest years during a cross-country trip of my own. Passing through Capitol Reef National Park and driving along Hwy 24 I was amazed at the lush greenery intermingled with the harsh surrounding desert. I stopped one morning for some coffee, bought some melons, and was intrigued that you could get such fine produce from the soil. While the soil took some work to nurture along in the early days, there are minerals present in the soil that give the produce an excellent flavor not found in other regions.
Randy allowed me to make a couple of visits during the summer of 2013 to see the full scale of the work and that’s what I’m presenting here. So the next time you’re near Capitol Reef National Park, be sure to stop in at Mesa Market in Caineville. You’ll be glad you did!
You can learn more by visiting their website directly at Mesa Farm Market
The work begins at first light as everyone gathers in the kitchen to discuss the most urgent tasks at hand. On this day there’d be the milking of goats, turning the kids (the goat kind) out to pasture for the day, the picking of tomatoes, turning of the cheese, and the daily sales of coffee and produce to the passing tourists.
John Olchewski, a volunteer at the farm, let the kids out in the morning. They definitely have their own distinct personalities and they are super excited to get out in the field in the morning.
Jesse Ward is from Salt Lake City. He wanted to get out of the city and wants to farm full time. I’d say he’s well on his way. He knows much about farming and has a clear love for the land and the life style. I was with him one evening as he milked the goats, a regular chore.
Zeek a capable farmhand himself. Trained by Randy (in the background) Zeek rounds up the goats and leads them into their pen for the day, after the morning milking.
Meagan Coy is working at the farm as an apprenticeship. She previously studied environmental studies at the University of Montana and worked on an urban garden in Boulder, Colorado. She helps to process the the milk and yogurt, doing her share of the milking too. Meagan hopes to take this experience with her to other places.
A big part of the work involves the making of cheese. It appeared to me a lengthy and delicate process. The following images show a temperature gage related to the underground cellar where the cheese is aged, Meagan turning the cheese in the cellar and the finished product ready for sale.
Of course there are lots of other goods for sale too, like delicious cinnamon rolls, pinon creme, pickled okra, and fresh organic salad among other products.
Randy, Jesse and Meagan making things happen.
One of Jesse’s many and varied talents, fixing the hydraulics on the backhoe.
While there was still daylight, Megan was out picking beautiful, organic tomatoes.
Meagan and John carry tomatoes to the kitchen at the end of another productive day at Mesa Market.
When the evening comes you might find Randy and Jesse talking over the days accomplishments and sharing a laugh or two. It’s then time to relax and enjoy a fresh organic meal together.