Grace Harbor Farms
Producers: Tim and Grace Lukens
Located in: Custer, Wash.
Supplying PCC since: 2009
Supplies PCC with: Cream-top (non-homogenized) whole-milk yogurt from their herd of Guernsey cows.
Coming full circle: Tim Lukens grew up on his grandparents' farm just a few miles away, gathering eggs and milking cows. He swore he'd never return to the hard work of dairy farming, then found himself doing just that in his 50s when he and wife Grace began keeping goats in 1999.
Guernsey milk: Tim says they chose to work with Guernsey milk due to its rich flavor and high levels of A2 beta-casein that some say aids digestion (this protein also is found in high levels in goat's milk). The golden color of milk from Guernsey cows is a result of high beta-carotene content.
From a hobby to a passion
What happens to a dream deferred? In the case of dairy farmers Tim and Grace Lukens, it re-emerges years later to rave reviews.
The Lukens and their son, David, run Grace Harbor Farms, a small operation not far from the Canadian border. But PCC shoppers may better recognize them as the makers of luscious, cream-top yogurt crafted from the golden whole milk of Guernsey cows.
Customers rave that the yogurt is amazingly good and easy to digest, with a cream top thick enough to spread on toast. It’s free of stabilizers, with only milk, organic sugar and live active cultures (and pure vanilla extract in the vanilla version) on the ingredient list.
“I want to make a product that has life in it,” says Tim Lukens. To him, that means yogurt free of thickeners, additives and other extras often added to give it a “mouth appeal.”
“ It’s fun to make something that tastes so good. ” — Grace Lukens
“The comments and emails we’ve been getting ever since we started it have been a really, really pleasant surprise to us and we’re very thankful.”
Tim helped on his grandparents’ farm nearby as a child in the 1960s, gathering eggs and milking cows. It was such hard work he swore he’d never do it again, then found himself back at it in 1999, when he and Grace started keeping a small herd of goats to become more self-reliant.
The hobby grew and grew. They considered making yogurt, then found themselves too busy producing goat milk and goat-milk based soaps and lotions to pursue it. In late 2008, Tim says, they remembered the idea and spent two months experimenting with Guernsey milk before they achieved their desired flavor and consistency. They’ve sold it since 2009 with milk from their four Guernsey cows, which eat an antibiotic-free diet of non-GMO barley and wheat.
The rave reviews keep coming from fans on postcards, email and voicemail, but the Lukens likely will keep their farm around the same size. They'd rather focus on quality than quantity, Tim says.
Says Grace Lukens: “It’s fun to make something that tastes so good.”