Tamara Hicks, Tomales Farmstead Creamery & Toluma Farms

Tamara Hicks with goat

Founded in 2013, Tomales Farmstead Creamery produces artisanal, farmstead goat and sheep cheeses, making eight seasonal cheeses as one of the few dairies worldwide milking two different types of animals. Their animals are raised on their 160-acre dairy and educational farm called Toluma Farms, located just a few miles from the Pacific Coast, on the ancestral homeland of the Coast Miwoks. Home to 80 sheep and 200 goats that are rotated regularly to graze and roam, the farm is open to the public with tours and tastings by appointment, with the goal of building community, reconnecting with nature, and showcasing the integral role animal agriculture has in land stewardship. In this Member Spotlight, we talk with co-owner Tamara Hicks about what makes this place so special, and take a tour with assistant land & herd Manager Audrey Hill and facilities manager Jacob Hicks (both pictured). 

Tomales Farmstead Creamery & Toluma Farms, 5488 Middle Road, Tomales | tolumafarms.org 

Farm Trails members since 2016

How did you get interested in farming?

As a mother of young kids in the mid-nineties and a psychologist, I began to pay more attention to the ecosystems around me and how was I helping or damaging them. I wanted to support my community, protect agricultural land from being developed, and feed my family locally grown, delicious food that was sustainable. 

My paternal great-grandparents were tenant farmers and had a homestead farm in Oklahoma that I spent time on when I was young. My maternal grandmother was raised on a cow dairy in upstate New York. I was saddened that in a relatively short period of time we became so removed from our food systems. So my husband, David, and I searched for property that used to be in the agricultural system but fell out, and found 160 acres in the sweet town of Tomales. 

What do you do?

We raise dairy goats and sheep and make artisan cheeses from their milk. We also purchase cow milk from the 7th-generation Silva Family Dairy (also in Tomales) for our cheeses. 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I love building community and providing a place for people to get off their screens and reconnect with nature and animals. Most people don’t even know how much their soul needs this until they are on the land. 

What do you value about being a member of Farm Trails?

We don’t have a marketing budget and most farms stay afloat by the diversification into agritourism. Farm Trails gets the word out, which allows us to spend more time taking care of our farm. 

What are your hopes for the future of your business and/or Sonoma County ag?

I hope that people in Marin & Sonoma County take the time to visit as many farms as possible and get to know the farmers and food makers so they can offer support. You support what you love and you love what you know. If farmers lose the support from the community then we will be left with buying food from afar that isn’t as delicious or nutritious. 

What advice would you share with someone starting out in your line of business? 

Don’t do it alone! We have so many amazing organizations in Marin & Sonoma County (such as Farm Trails) supporting agriculture. Connect with them as soon as possible! 

Top photo by Tamara Hicks. All other photos by Lisa Rose