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May 31, 2021

Supporting an Ecosystem that Benefits All at Angeles Crest Creamery

When California’s Bobcat Fire struck in September 2020, the timing couldn’t have been worse for goatherder Gloria Putnam. Every single female goat, or doe, she had was pregnant at Angeles Crest Creamery in the San Gabriel Mountains outside of Los Angeles. The does birthed their kids and the goat herd tripled in size soon after the fire destroyed nearly 80% of Gloria’s ranch.

“The Bobcat Fire presented many challenges,” says Gloria. “But I’m actually excited to learn how to adapt my herd to the loss. I want to learn about the relationship between our ecosystem and fire. I want to study how herbivores, both wild and domesticated, adapt to the evolving landscape. These are important lessons for agriculture in general as drought and wildfire affect ranches throughout the West.”

Gloria Putnam of Angeles-Crest-Creamery

Angeles Crest Creamery will use its Brighter Future Fund grant to protect a popular grazing spot near the barn that was damaged in the wildfire, one of the one of the largest fires on record in Los Angeles County to date.

American Farmland Trust, with support from Tillamook Creamery, launched the Brighter Future Fund to help farmers in the face of pressing challenges like climate change and COVID-19. The grant will help the ranch build fencing to keep away goats and deer while the chaparral plants resprout.

“We will monitor the area’s recovery compared to unfenced areas,” Gloria says. “We want to see how the post-fire plant succession and diversity are influenced by herbivores’ foraging pressure. As we learn, we share our results in our weekly newsletter, The Obligate Resprouter, read by other ranchers and the public.”

Putnam raises her goats in what is called a “minimum-input” food production system, which is wildlife-friendly, conserves water, and preserves wilderness. This not only benefits humans but also many wild creatures. “Our goal is to support an ecosystem that produces abundantly for all who depend on it,” she says.

This passionate goatherder draws from a wide network of scientists to raise goats in a traditional pastoralist system. But the best teachers? The goats themselves.

“Goats are smart,” she says. “They use a combination of eye contact, body language, and vocalizations to communicate. Much of what I’ve learned about the ranch’s ecosystems, I’ve learned by watching how goats behave and the landscape responds. Goats learn what to eat through experimentation and watching what their moms eat. Every year, my herd gets smarter about how and what to forage and I get to learn along with them.”

Follow along as Angeles Crest Ranch rebuilds from the fire by signing up for the newsletter.

Brighter Future Fund

Informed by farmers, built on experience, and inspired by you. AFT’s Brighter Future Fund carries forward AFT's commitment to addressing inequalities in our agricultural system by providing grants up to $5,000 to BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or women farmers nationwide. Help us support another round of inspiring farmers by donating to the fund today! 100% of all funds raised will go directly to farmers to strengthen farm resilience, enhance farm viability, and improve access to land.