Before opening Common Roots, Donnay Chevre was a regular treat I’d pick up at the co-op. A light, creamy, and smooth spreadable goat cheese that is full of flavor, you want to eat it with a spoon. One of the many wonders of having a restaurant is getting the chevre in 4 pound bags.
On a recent visit with Brad and Leanne Donnay, I discovered that the story of the dairy matches the quality of their award-winning product.
Donnay Dairy is in Kimball, MN about an hour and a half northwest of Common Roots. Arriving near the end of the morning milking, we were just in time to see the last of the goats step up to the milking station. Brad Donnay and Daisy, an exceptionally friendly and skilled herding dog, greeted us and showed us their morning and afternoon work. Twice a day, every day, they milk all their 120 goats. Brad opens the door to the milking area, a group of goats happily runs in, they are milked, and as soon as milking is done, Daisy jumps up and helps guide them back to the barn. And then the next group of goats pop into the milking area.
Brad and Leanne Donnay built their dairy just 5 years ago. “We wanted to create a family farm where our children could enjoy the same life experiences we value from being raised on a farm,” Brad said. Brad is a fourth generation dairy farmer and relatives are plentiful in the immediate area around the dairy.
The Donnay Dairy produces farmstead cheese – their certified organic cheese is made exclusively with their own milk from their own goats, and all cheese is made onsite. They are one of only a very small number of organic farmstead goat dairies in the country.
Check out video of our visit to the dairy on our You Tube Channel
With limited goat milk and very high demand for their product, Brad and Leanne focus their energies on producing just two cheeses – their amazing chevre and small batches of Granite Ridge, a soft creamy ripened cheese.
Brad’s family background is in dairy farming, and he was trained in cheese-making and quality control -- all things that go into yielding exceptional cheese. The Donnays are personally in control of every step of the process, from raising the goats to packing the cheese. At Common Roots, we have been using Donnay cheese since we opened, and in over two years we have never received a less than perfect batch of their cheese.
With this commitment to excellence and to working as a small family business, expect that Donnay cheese will continue to be a local treasure to be prized. Produced in small batches, with limited availability, the Donnays and Daisy won’t be able to keep up with the great demand for their product. But they will continue to do what they do best, and provide us with high quality cheese.