About Sweet Land Farm
The Bello family house was always home to a menagerie of pets and headquarters for family building projects. Every weekend was spent working together to build useful things. Little did we know that we would eventually be spending our weekends building a goat dairy.
Emma, a culinary student at Leeward Community College’s culinary arts program, was on her way to being a pastry chef when she fell in love with goats. That 3-month internship at the Surfing Goat Dairy on Maui turned into a full year and was followed by years of further internships and deeper explorations into the realms of goat and other kinds of dairies and cheese making in other regions, including Europe. At the same time Emma was completing her culinary degree, the rest of the family – dad Eric, mom Mary, and brother Austin started to lay the groundwork for Sweet Land.
What also began to emerge from Emma’s singular desire was a deep desire in the family to reconnect with our agricultural history.
Eric and Mary both have degrees in Poultry Science from CalPoly, though they have been running a mill together, customizing stair cases, windows, doors for most of their lives. Austin has completed a degree in Agricultural Engineering and is deep into the development of an enterprise focusing on regional specific silage cultivation. Mary’s family still operates one of the longest running farms in Hawaii, Peterson Upland Farm. This beloved egg farm, running for over a century now, started originally as a Jersey cow dairy right up there in Wahiawa heights!
About the Farm and Creamery
Located in Waialua, Hawaii right below Mount Ka’ala so we every time we look up we see the Waianae Mountain range. The goats graze on a series of one-acre forage pastures on the wild grasses, vines, flowers, and weeds – including invasive trees on the farm: christmasberry, haole koa, silver oak, eucalyptis. Tree trimmings from friends add to the tropical climate diet with lychee and mango branches. We love how the goats are able to give nourishment back to the land, by fertilizing and helping to regenerate the soil that had been stripped by decades of pineapple growing, followed by years of fallow. After the goats are done, we rest the pastures, we then mow and let the grasses grow again. This ritual of rotation we feel is beneficial for the goats, the grasses, and the soil.
Austin’s enterprise has grown and made silage of Guinea grass and has started to cultivate a test plot of alfalfa on 50 acres on our farm as well as 37 acres of land we are prepping to grow additional silage and forage crops. We also keep hives that will be providing fresh honey for our products.
We designed and built our farm and the creamery incorporating models new and old that we felt were incredibly useful, good for the goats, befitting of our micro-climate, energy efficient, helpful to the land and the community. We are learning everyday, through trial and error, through a supportive network of fellow goat dairies, and of course, from the goats themselves.
Our creamery of course is state of the art and runs on the highest commercial kitchen standards. After extensive research, we decided on a Greek designed milking parlour and station. We have a 211-gallon vat for pasteurizing and are completing design on cheese aging rooms as well as a retail storefront.
We produce farmstead goat cheese and goat milk products exclusively from the goats raised here on our family farm. The milk is transformed into products like chèvre, feta, Tomme and Caramel sauce.