Artisan Cheese Biz Churns Out a New Kind of Paint


Two miles inland from the San Mateo coast sits a restored 1910 dairy farm that has revolutionized how milk paint is made. Yes, you read that right – an artistic medium coming from a farm. The folks at Harley Farms in Pescadero have already perfected their award-winning goat cheese, but they saw potential in milking their business for all it’s worth (so to speak) and expanding into the fine art sector with the introduction of their very own line of Harley Farms FarmPaint, made with goat milk.

If you are a DIYer, home renovator, or just have a knack for craft, you may be familiar with milk paint already. It is inherently earthy and lends a distinctive rustic, worn finish to distressed painting projects, like this one. Adding goat milk to the mix takes the authentic feel of the paint one step further and introduces a suede-like, old world European look when applied to a surface.

The process starts with a 5:30 a.m. goat milking. While most of the milk is allotted for cheese making, a portion is crafted into beautiful soap. That smaller batch is driven up to Eilis, the soap maker, a self-proclaimed “alchemist of soaps, lotions, and potions.” She transforms the milk into soap, and then it’s off to the paint maker. Alex grates the soap into fine, parmesan-thin shavings and throws them into a melting pot. A couple of hot, boiling hours later, he mixes the two ingredients together, slowly swirling in the non-toxic pigment.

Farm owner Dee explains that you can brush the paint onto any surface right out of the pot – that’s is how the paint is tested. Still warm, the paint is packaged in very small batches. The best part of these new canned colors? The paint is non-toxic, which is why the Harley Farms FarmPaint brand is a popular pick for nurseries. Dee mentions you can even lick the paint off your fingers – it’s that safe! Use the paint on any surface you can think of, from wood, textured walls, and concrete to plaster, metal, clay, ceramics, and canvas.

Check out the awesome videos by Farm Filmmaker James Reid to get an inside look at how the paint is created. Fair warning: You may find yourself craving blocks of cheese by the end.

For more information, and to order Harley Farms FarmPaint, check out their website.

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