Steve and Lee Tate, co-founders of Goat Lady Dairy, have sold the dairy to long time employees Carrie Routh Bradds and Bobby Bradds.
“We are so pleased that Carrie and Bobby and their farm family will continue and expand what we started,” said Steve.
“Sadly, we have lost many family farms in North Carolina,” said Andrew Santulli, GLD’s business coach from the Small Business Technology and Business Center (SBTDC). “Through cheese making, the Tates have added value to their farm and three local partner farms supplying their milk. Because of their farmland preservation and careful succession planning, the good work of Goat Lady Dairy will continue.”
In 1984 Steve’s sister Ginnie Tate and her two pet Nubian goats moved to a 200-year-old 40 acre abandoned North Carolina tobacco farm. Thinking her a bit odd, the neighbors nicknamed her “the Goat Lady.” The two goats became 20, extra milk turned into cheese, and the hobby farm grew. In 1995 Ginnie’s brother Steve, his wife Lee and their sons joined her to start one of the first licensed goat cheese dairies in North Carolina.
Early on the Routh/Bradds family helped out at the dairy. (The first Routh brothers started farming in the neighborhood in 1740!) In 1995 Tommy, Carrie’s father and Bobby, her husband built the multipurpose dairy barn that includes the goat barn, creamery, dining room and kitchen. Carrie started helping in the cheese room and learned the craft. Eventually, Carrie became the first full-time staff person and then Production Manager. Later Bobby joined Carrie and became a Lead Cheesemaker.
After Ginnie’s death in 2009, Steve and Lee started working with business coaches from the Small Business Technology and Development Center (SBTDC) on a succession plan. A creamery expansion in 2013 quadrupled capacity. Since then production has more than doubled.
Today, four local family farms work together to produce GLD’s goat and cow milk and national award-winning cheese. Goat Lady Dairy is one of the oldest and largest artisan cheese dairies in the South, distributing cheeses throughout the East Coast and beyond. The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the Piedmont Land Conservancy, the Conservation Trust of North Carolina, the Good Food Awards and the USDA have recognized the farmland preservation, energy conservation, and sustainable farming practices of GLD.