Natural Pastures Cheese / Agritourism / Red-Fleshed Apples

Natural Pastures Cheese Company
The story of Natural Pastures is an inspiring one, as it’s a story of how one farming family was able to preserve the heritage, social and environmental values of their dairy farm by diversifying and becoming a commercial cheesemaker. Natural Pastures sources their milk from a number of traditional farms on Vancouver Island, including one farm that raises water buffalo. While most of Natural Pastures cheeses are made with cow’s milk, Natural Pastures is the only cheesemaker in Canada producing a variety of cheese that uses the milk of water buffalo. Host Jon Steinman visited the facility in October 2008.

While many farmers see the role of agritourism as a further insult to the dismal state of farming today, some farmers have recognized it as the only way to stay in business. DKT Ranch on Vancouver Island is one of those farms that has successfully remained in the business of farming by diversifying their operation to offer more than just food. Host Jon Steinman visited with DKT’s Dan and Maggie Thran.

Red-Fleshed Apples
First introduced into North America in 1840, according to Salt Spring Island’s Harry Burton, red-fleshed apples are the “apple of the future”. Apple Luscious Organic Orchard on Salt Spring Island grows 23 varieties of red-fleshed apples and in September 2008, correspondent Andrea Langlois visited with Burton at the Salt Spring Island Apple Festival.


Edgar J. SmithPresidentNatural Pastures Cheese Company (Courtenay, BC) – Dating back over 90 years, the Smith family’s Beaver Meadow Farms eventually morphed into Natural Pastures Cheese Company. Today, the businesses uses only fresh milk produced on a number of select Vancouver Island farms, which practice sustainable farming and animal stewardship. The farms are classified as Heritage Dairy Farms. (Interview segments courtesy of The Pursuit of Pleasure Podcast)

Paul SutterMaster CheesemakerNatural Pastures Cheese Company (Courtenay, BC) – Born in 1972 in Sonenntal Switzerland where he spent much of his time on his grandfather’s dairy farm. In 1991 he earned his certification as a Master Cheesemaker and in 1995 responded to a job posting in a Swiss newspaper and moved to Canada to become a cheesemaker. Paul joined Natural Pastures in 2002.

Dan ThranFarmerDKT Ranch, (Courtenay, BC) – Owned and operated by Dan and Maggie Thran, DKT is an 80 acre farm which was purchased by Dan’s parents in 1927. His parents turned it into a dairy farm in the early 1940s and the farm was passed on to Dan in the early 1970s. Since then, the farm has primarily become a beef operation along with raising pasture-raised poultry, lamb and eggs.

Harry BurtonFarmerApple Luscious Organic Orchard, (Salt Spring Island, BC) – This young orchard on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia is situated on 5 acres of land. Located on a slightly south facing slope, the orchard was created from scratch on land logged in 1980, with the first apple trees planted in 1986. It consists of about 300 trees of mostly apples, but also plums, pears, cherries and Asian pears. Harry helps organize the Salt Spring Apple Festival.

Other Voices

Stan HagenMinister of Agriculture and LandsProvince of British Columbia, (Courtenay, BC)

Leslie ShannOperations and Distribution ManagerNatural Pastures Cheese Company (Courtenay, BC)

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)
Music – Stan Rogers, Watching the Apples Grow, Fogarty’s Cove, Festival Distribution Inc. (CDN)
Soundclip – Monty Python, Cheese Shop, The Final Ripoff, Virgin Records