Sorry! Mariposa Creamery has closed their farm stay doors since we put up this post.
Mariposa Creamery is a small micro-dairy offering a farm stay in the middle of the historic Zane Grey Estate in Altadena, California. Who would have thought you could take a real farm vacation in the Los Angeles suburbs?
Besides being able to stay overnight on the farm, guests can opt in for cheese-making classes and a chance to taste a variety of the cultured milk products produced by the resident Nubian goats. Goats are milked twice a day and guests are allowed to try their hand. It's harder than it looks, but the goats are patient teachers.
Great for couples or young families with at most two small kids (due to the size of the Airtream trailer that resides in the middle of the garden), Mariposa Creamery has been selected by Airbnb as one of the Top 40 on its Wishlist. Could it be they were chosen because their promotional photo shows baby goats in front of the Airstream? Or could it be just the most interesting, fun, natural, foodie stay in LA - and for only $169 per night?!
We sat down with Gloria Putnam, goat herder/cheesemaker/farmer to find out more about her farm oasis and what it's like to be an urban farmer.
What is the landscape and setting like around your farm, especially since you are so close in to LA?
We are in a suburban neighborhood. About 15 minutes from downtown LA. And only 5 minutes from the hiking trails of the Angeles National Forest.
What is the Zane Grey Estate known for and how does the farm fit into it?
The Estate is on the National Register of Historic Places, both because the western author Zane Grey lived (and died) here, and also because it was built by architect Myron Hunt, who is most famous for building the Rose Bowl in Pasadena but also for building many other commercial and residential structures in the area and was an early pioneer in poured-in-place concrete construction.
The property has no history of farming before our project. But it's an ideal location for a suburban farm because the lot size is large compared to most properties, and Altadena has zoning laws that allow livestock. Altadena is kind of an urban farming hot spot in Los Angeles.
What do guests typically do when they visit your farm?
The most popular activity is the morning goat milking. Guests can watch or get a private goat milking lesson. Many students plan their visit around a food crafting class offered on the Estate by the Institute of Domestic Technology. Others arrange for private cheese making instruction.
Off farm, guests enjoy visiting the nearby Huntington Gardens and hiking in the mountains. We have a collection of ruminant-related DVDs in the Airstream that are also very popular!
Could you describe your accommodations in a bit more detail, e.g. is the trailer best accommodating 2 adults or can a family with kids squeeze in?
Our Bambi is the smallest trailer made by Airstream--only 16ft. Think Tiny House size. The main bed is a little bit more narrow than a full, so fine for a couple that doesn't mind a night of snuggling. The dinette also folds down into a smaller bed. We've had up to families of 4 work it out, but that's a little bit tight. Families of 3 and couples are the most common guests.
How/when did you get into farming and what’s your background?
We've been farming here for about 7 years. Our dairy goats are the main focus, but we also keep chickens and quail, and have a reasonably sized vegetable garden and herb garden. We were motivated initially by just wanting good food. But now I think we are mainly motivated by our love of our animals, and an appreciation for the magic of what they do: make milk out of grass!
What drew you to goats, cheese, and small-scale farming (be it a certain breed, a certain type of growing method, etc.)?
I love milk. And goats seemed an obvious choice since our space is relatively small compared to most farms. Our goats are Nubians, so they make especially rich milk, which is great for drinking but also high-yielding for cheese.
The most fun part of small-scale farming for me is learning something new, since I didn't grow up on a farm. I love learning about the goats, how to best keep them happy and healthy, and how to make the best use of their generous offerings. I'm a scientist by training, so cheese making is a natural hobby for me.
Anything else you think travelers might want to know?
Our farm's focus is education. We don't sell our milk or cheese although farmstay guests get to enjoy both while they are here. We teach cheese making classes and operate a dairy internship program for locals. There aren't many farms or ranches near Los Angeles, so it's a great place to invite people to come and see what what small scale farming is like. Everyone who visits is surprised by how friendly the goats are. The most common comment I get is "They are just like dogs!" Except dogs don't give you their milk!
So ended our conversation with Mariposa Creamery, obviously great lovers of goats, hanky-panky aside. Did we forget to say that their Mariposa Creamery Facebook page is full of the daily antics of their four-legged friends, including sneaking in through windows into the kitchen and getting stuck in all manner of things?! A visit to this farm is sure to bring some peace into the middle of an LA stay, but also a few tales to tell!