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Our Story

Good Food From the Soil Up

Good Food from The Soil Up

We are Kootenay Meadows, formally Kootenay Alpine Cheese, a grass fed, certified organic dairy in the heart of the beautiful Creston Valley.  All the milk produced on the farm from our herd of well loved cows is processed on-farm, we make artisanal cheeses, have a full line of glass bottled milk and cream and make small batch soft serve ice cream.  Our farm is multigenerational and a source of great family pride.

​Wayne and Denise Harris, my parents, began farming here in 1990, with 3 kids under the age of 7.  Wayne always wanted to think outside the box and experiment with different ways of doing things.  They began grazing and farming more like dairys in the UK and New Zealand where grass based farming was common.  

This outside the box thinking led in a fairly logical pattern to looking more into organic agriculture.  Grazing our herd had led to improved animal health, allowed the animals to exhibit more natural behaviors and increased productivity.  This led to wondering what other changes could they make to our system that would improve things, reduce cost and reduce the environmental impact of our operation.   ​

Organic agriculture is based on the principal of "problem avoidance by design".  For us this means crop rotation planning to minimize weed and pest pressure, utilizing our own manure for fertilizer, producing the vast majority of our own crops to keep our nutrient cycles balanced, reducing stress in our herd to improve animal health, reducing per cow production pressure to reduce illness while also increasing their overall lifespan and many more things we consider when making any farm decisions.   Our farm became fully certified organic in 2007.  

Due to the relative “remoteness” of the Kootenays compared to dairy processing all of our organic grass fed milk was being shipped with conventional milk.  This along with “empty nest syndrome” led my parents to begin considering taking steps to process our own milk on farm.   We were proud of the milk we produced and wanted to share that with our community.  This began a really wonderful time of trying a lot of different cheeses and determining what fit best for our herd and our milk.  We all loved alpine style raw milk cheeses, these styles really showcase the milk and the region well.  So in 2007 the initial part of our processing plant was built and we began making our Alpindon, Nostrala and Mountain Grana, all raw milk cheeses.   My mom took on the role of cheese maker. 

As the cheese became more comfortable my Dad continued to want to “push the envelope”.   This resulted in me getting a call in the middle of the night at university with him asking how to place a bid in an online auction, because the federal government was auctioning off equipment from closing prison farms and he wanted to buy a fluid processing line.   His bid was successful and himself and two wonderful tradesmen from Creston went down to New Brunswick and spent a week in prison dismantling our new bottling line.  

In 2011 we began fluid processing, we had decided to bottle in glass and do a full range of milk from skim to whipping cream.  It has been wonderful to see our community embrace our products and within months we were able to process and sell all the milk we produce on the farm.  

As processing ramped up each of us kids returned to the farm for various jobs and times.  My eldest sister Nadine was very involved in the cheese making, marketing and development of our brand in the early years.  She spent 5 years working to help build the business to what it is now.  She now lives with her family in Nelson and works as a teacher, but returns often to the farm and helps with events.  My older brother Foster, returned initially to be the delivery driver, being out in the Kootenays we need to do all our own distribution.  After a few years of that he began to learn cheese making and processing, he now is the cheesemaker and manages the processing days, the processing couldn’t function without him.  I returned from University to work on the farm, my main passions are the cows and cropping.  After a few years away working in more of the agriculture industry I returned again to the farm and began helping to manage more of the business as well as the farm.  In January of 2023 I purchased the farm and processing company from my parents.  

Our farm has grown over the years, as growing a lot of our crops made sense for organic production.  We now farm 900 acres of organic grain, alfalfa and pastures.  Our herd has stayed the same size at around 100 milking cows, though the breeds have changed over time.  We used to milk mainly Holsteins, which can be described as the ‘race cars’ of the cow world, these cows have been bred to produce high volumes of milk but also require higher energy, grain, diets.  We now milk mainly jerseys, which can be described as the ‘mini vans’ of the cow world. I like to joke that they won’t get you there fast but will get you to soccer practice for 20 years.  These cows are more of a heritage breed and produce well on our grass based diets, they also have great feet and legs and health traits so fit very well into an organic system.  I have inherited my dads need to try new things and am often testing new methods of doing things, one of the most recent is raising our calves on nurse cows.  

As we have progressed we have added a few more products, we make a soft fresh cheese based on a traditional Scottish cheese, Quebecois style cheese curds, a bit of cheddar and in our farm shop we make soft serve ice cream.  Our barns are open to the public during our farm shop hours and it's really nice to see kids interacting with the cows and seeing an operating farm.  Each year we host a Spring Turn Out event when our cows return to summer pasture, this is such a wonderful time to share with our community.  We have also begun hosting artisan markets throughout the summer and one small fall event.  

We have a wonderful team of 16 people that make all of this possible.  We could not do what we do without their hard work.  There are truly many hands that go into our handcrafted products. 

Meet Our Team

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Erin Harris


Foster Harris

The Big Cheese - Processing Manager


Emotional Support


Farm Supervisor


Many Hands in Hand Crafted

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