Laini Fondiller of Lazy Lady Farm has been making goat cheese in the hinterlands of northern Vermont since WAY before artisan cheese was on anyone’s radar, let alone cool! Laini fell in love with cheese and goats while interning on different farms around France. After her visa expired and she was ‘kicked out’ of France (her words), she decided to try her hand at making goat cheese in Vermont.
You can try Laini’s cheeses in our Lazy Lady Farm Collection.
Let’s start with the fact that the name ‘Lazy Lady’ could not be a more ridiculous moniker for Laini Fondiller. On Laini’s farm, the Lazy Ladies are the goats, who bask in the luxury of a warm, clean barn, listen to NPR, and who are taken out for long walks every Monday afternoon to forage for sapling trees, shrubs, and other tasty browse in the surrounding woods. Laini is basically a one-woman show – doing the work normally divided between several people on a farm – milking the goats, tending the goats, making the cheese, aging the cheese, and selling the cheese at farmer’s markets and to lucky folks like us!
When Laini started making cheese in the early 1980’s, it was basically the dark ages for artisan cheesemaking in the U.S. There were virtually no resources available – no cultures, no equipment, and hardly any dairy goats either! Luckily for us, artisan cheesemakers tend to be a bit nutty (in all the right ways) and seem to love to do things the hardest way possible. Not only did Laini and her partner Barry have to build the cheese house, cave, and barn from scratch, they decided to go 100% off the grid and constructed their own wind turbine and solar panels to provide all the farm’s energy needs.
Barry built Lazy Lady Farm’s first ‘pasteurizer’ from a steam kettle because there were no small pasteurizers available for small-scale cheesemakers to purchase, and Laini taught herself to make the delicate, bloomy-rind goat cheeses she loved from France by reading books on the subject. Her cheeses quickly gained a following, especially in New York where chefs were hungry for delicious and unique goat cheeses from America and abroad.
Laini now makes over thirty different kinds of cheese from her goats’ milk as well as from purchased cows’ milk in the wintertime when her goats are dry and waiting for their kids to be born. Laini’s playful and witty spirit comes through in the names of her ever-changing roster of cheeses – Thin Red Line, Marbarella, La Roche (‘The Rock’ in French) Fake Cheese, Bonaparte, and Sweet Emotions are of some our recent favorites.
Over the years, Lazy Lady Farm has been equal parts cheese maker and goat breeder, supplying dairy goats to many up and coming farms across America. In fact, if you visit her website (and we encourage you to do so!) the first thing you see is Laini’s meticulous notes detailing how her goats are bred, birthed, and raised. Her goats have been certified organic since 1987 (again… WAY ahead of the curve!) and Laini thinks of them as family.
Laini Fondiller is a true pioneer in the annals of American artisan cheese. Saxelby Cheesemongers celebrates Lazy Lady Farm and Laini’s amazing cheese!!