Mariposa Dairy is a success story with its beginnings out of the former Mariposa Township, Victoria County, from a farmstead plant that recently moved from the farm to the town of Lindsay, Ontario. Both Lenberg Farms and Mariposa Dairy, the cheese plant, are owned by Bruce and Sharon Vandenberg who started the cheese business in 1989.
The Vandenbergs were looking for a business opportunity that would allow both of them to work at home full time. Sharon has a diploma in Food Service and Bruce has one in Ag Business, both from Kemptville College. Sharon was very interested in the idea of a cheese plant. After some market research in Toronto, they determined to start a goat herd and a cheese plant.
The first goats were purchased in 1987 and the cheese plant was built in the summer of 1989. Sharon took both cheese making and milk-grading courses at the University of Guelph and Bruce bought some used cheese making equipment that had originally come from Holland. The first cheese was made in the fall of that same year.
In 1991, the herd numbered around 130 animals. Since then the market has expanded and the increasing volume demands have allowed the Vandenbergs to increase their goatherd to 1200 – 1300 milking does. The herd is made up of mainly 3 breeds; Alpine, Toggenberg and Saanen – a long, strong doe with excellent records of milk production. The does are bred with pure bred bucks.
Additional goat milk is purchased locally from 45 family run farms many of which are Amish families. All of their milk is from Ontario, Canada and all of their partner farmers follow their strict procedures and share their humane practices regarding their goats and sheep.
The Cheese Plant has moved from the farm to a wonderful state- of- the- art, modern, Global Food Safety FSSC 22000:2010 certified facility.
Mariposa Dairy’s cheese products are presently being shipped all across Canada and the USA through Finica Food Specialties Ltd. in Canada and Atalanta in the USA. They have won numerous awards, both for the cheeses AND in recognition for innovation and excellence in the dairy itself! Many of the cheeses are certified both Kosher and Halal. Starting in 2011, their plain chevre was available as “Passover Approved” in the US market.
The Dairy achieved its HACCP certification in 2008. As it expanded, the Dairy chose to focus on a Global Certification. With a great deal of focus and intent, Mariposa Dairy achieved its Global Food Safety Certification FSSC 22000 in 2011. This certification allows Mariposa Dairy to approach international markets.