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Six miles down the road from the 4P Foods distribution hub in Culpeper County, VA is Sweet Valley Farm Dairy. In terms of rural life, Cecilia and Al Schallenberger, the married duo who own and operate Sweet Valley Farm, are our neighbors. The Schallenbergers established Sweet Valley farm in 1998. At the time, the husband and wife team were commuting to the city to work in full-time positions as network engineers. What began as a way to reconnect with nature and de-stress after work has grown into a full-time USDA/VDACs-certified ‘microdairy’ operation.
Sweet Valley Farm Dairy is a 45-acre farm nestled along the Rappahanock River in Elkwood, VA. Cecilia and Al started with raising Black Angus Cattle, pigs, and horses. Several years later, the duo purchased their first pair of Nubians, goaded on by the interest of a neighbor’s child. Together Cecilia and the child joined 4-H Club to learn how to make cheese and soap with goats milk. Thus, a passion for goat milk began and the ‘microdairy’ came to fruition.
The operation is focused on their own small herd, comprised primarily of Registered Nigerian Goats.. The Shallenbergers raise their closed-herd in small numbers for optimal health and husbandry practices. Currently, they are milking five does. Each goat produces more than a enough to supply goat milk products. The husband and wife team put their engineering skills to use when they designed and built the USDA-grade dairy kitchen. In fact, it was Al who designed the pasteurizer on the farm, which was the first ever stove-top digital pasteurizer to be approved by the USDA. All Sweet Valley Farm Dairy products are crafted on property with pesticide-free and growth-hormone free milk from their herd.
The best known Sweet Valley Farm products are the chevre and feta cheeses that come in a dozen varieties. Most notable are the top-selling Sweet Valley Chive & Garlic Chevre and the sweeter, Cranberry Chevre made with dried cranberries and cranberry juice. Cecilia and Al also make goat milk essential oil-infused lotions, caramel cajeta, ice cream, and soaps. Sweet Valley Farm products are available at Farmers’ Markets across the area, Rogers Farm Winery and their online shop, in addition to the 4P Foods Dairy Share.
For the Schallenbergers, goat farming began as a hobby and has grown into a full-time business. When not farming and making cheese, Cecilia partners with Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, and local veterinarians to teach courses on goat care. Cecilia earned a certification in Vet Tech from Purdue University, and is renowned as “Virginia’s Goat Farming Mentor.” The passion behind this local dairy operation is explained by Cecilia, “We are more interested in the goats well-being than we are in making money. Money that we make from selling goat milk products is reinvested in the herd.”
We have carried the following Sweet Valley Farm Dairy chevres: Chive & Garlic, Herbs de Provence, Cranberry, Chipotle with Green Onion. More coming soon!