Goot Essa began in 2001 with a group of Amish dairy farmers who worked together to produce high quality cheese with some of their milk. Our goal then, as now, was to use our cheese-making expertise to provide enough extra income to keep our families on the farm.
We have chosen to work our fields in the traditional way, with horse and manpower instead of machines. This means that our farms will be small, but each acre and each animal is cared for with love and the respect of nature because ours are true family farms. In our society each member of the family has chores around the farm and each member contributes to the good of the farm, the family, and in turn the whole community.
Our goal is to offer food products made from the freshest, highest quality, all-natural ingredients. We make it all by hand, in small quantities, giving each one our individual attention. We want you to experience food fresh from the farm, processed at the peak of flavor, and shipped directly to you to maintain its flavor. We want your purchase to be much more meaningful, whether it is for your table, for a special event, or a gift for a friend.
In the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, “Goot Essa” means “good food” or “good eating.” We always hope our guests enjoy their meals with us, and so we wish them “goot essa” much as the Spanish wish “bien provecho” or the French “bon appétit”. It seems only natural to name our group Goot Essa, because we want you to share in our love of hand-made, good old-fashioned food—food with all the subtlety that means slowly aged and gourmet. Goot Essa, because we want you to share our love of recipes passed down over hundreds of years.
That is our story—pride in the past, with hope for the future—Goot Essa.
There are many aspects of Amish life that intrigue those who are not familiar with our beliefs. You may have noticed that we do not do business of any kind, other than caring for our animals, on Sunday. You may also have observed that we do not have pictures taken of Amish people, that we are not connected to the electrical grid, that we do not use computers for social purposes, and equally important for our cheese business, we do not enter into competitions. We consider all of this against our commandments. This does not mean that we do not respect your beliefs, and we ask the same of you.
Who’s Who at Goot Essa
Our Management Team
John Esh, owner-operator
Goot Essa is basically a family business. Although begun in 2001 as a cooperative of 6 families, it is now under the sole ownership and vision of John Esh Jr and his wife, Anna Mary. Besides managing Goot Essa, John milks 80 cows and farms 115 acres and serves on board of directors for the local vegetable cooperative and the local Amish school board. The Eshes have 9 children, 6 of them still at home, and 6 grandchildren. John’s favorite cheese is Der Gouda Kase.
Carolyn Steffen, Office Manager
Carolyn, her husband and 3 grown sons live in the next valley. Carolyn was one of the original Goot Essa members, so she has been with us from the beginning. Most of you will know her friendly voice and helpful attitude. If you ever have any problem, Carolyn is the person to contact for fast resolution. Her favorite cheeses are Savory Oregano and Mountain Valley Sharp Cheddar.
Steven Fisher, Sales Manager
For many of you, your first interaction with Goot Essa will be Steven. We love Steven because he is honest, caring, and a true cheese lover. Actually, Steven is a small dairy farmer from a neighboring valley and sells organic dairy products to his neighbors when not working for Goot Essa. Steven and his wife, Amanda, have 3 children and milk 4 cows and farm 30 acres. Steven really enjoys the bloomy rind cheeses: Der Weichen Gehl, Marn Vom Berge Kase and Emanuel Vom Tal Kase. You will really see Steven’s enthusiasm for cheese when you stop in for a visit.
Sadie Mae King, Quality Control Manager
Sadie is John and Anna Mary’s oldest daughter and the mother of one. Her husband is a partner in a local construction company. An expert in tasting cheese, Sadie knows when they are good and insists on nothing but the highest quality for our clients.
John B. Esh, Shipping Manager
Although John does work in sales, his primary responsibility is making sure you get your Goot Essa cheese on time and at its peak of flavor. Still single, John loves hunting and hiking in the mountains as well as playing ball with his brothers. His favorite cheese? “Actually, I pretty much like them all.”
Lacey Glick, Website Manager
Lacey and her husband, Mark have 5 children and live in rural Nittany Valley. Her role at Goot Essa as website manager is to handle all web orders, web related email inquiries, and to maintain the website. Should you have questions or feedback concerning our website Lacey will be the person responding. While Lacey loves what she does at Goot Essa, above all else she loves being a wife and mother. She also enjoys gardening, raising livestock and feeding the wild birds. Additionally Lacey has also developed a passion for healthy wholesome food, which of course, includes Goot Essa cheese. Her all-time favorite cheese is Old German Wiessa Kase.
Our Cheese Makers
Our cheese makers are specialists. They make only a few cheeses each so that they can concentrate on making that cheese to the best of their ability. Their dedication to their craft, which emphasizes preservation of our cheese history, is the reason that we can offer the same taste and the same quality in batch after batch of Goot Essa cheeses.
Israel Kinsinger, Cheese Maker
Israel is responsible for making our world-famous cheddar cheeses. He is the father of 5 children, 3 of whom are interested in learning to make cheese. A studious man, Israel enjoys reading and tending his animals. His favorite cheese? “I really enjoy a good cheddar,” he says.
Fannie Mae Glick, Cheese Maker
Fannie is from a neighbor dairy farm and possesses an extremely infectious personality. She is also responsible for managing our cheese cave and the rotation of our cheeses. She loves making Felsa Yehr, but she prefers to eat Der Weichen Gehl with a drop of Nittany Valley Honey. Her favorite recipe is pasta with a mixture of Der Alpen Kase and Mountain Valley Sharp Cheddar cheese sauce.
Linda Stoltzfus, Cheese Maker
Linda is another local girl who absolutely loves cheese making and is fascinated by the cheese making process. She lives with her parents, 2 brother and 5 sisters. Her favorite cheese to make is Marn vom Berge, which is also her favorite cheese to eat, but also really likes the taste of Der Alpen Kase.
Lydia Stoltzfus, Cheese Maker
Lydia and Linda are cousins and best of friends. Lydia is from another valley north of our Nittany Valley. Her family runs a vegetable farm and have a commercial green house. Lydia is the only girl in a family of 6. She enjoys making Der Mutterschaf Kase, but really enjoys the buttery taste of Old German Weissa Kase.
Our Farmer Suppliers
Our farmers are the key to Goot Essa cheese. Unlike large commercial cheesemakers, Goot Essa only accepts the freshest, highest quality milk for our cheeses. This allows us to maintain the buttery taste which is the defining note of our cheese. This also allows us to pay a higher price for their milk and helps keep the family on the farm.
John and Anna Mary Esh
John and Anna Mary Esh supply all the cow milk for Goot Essa. Their 80 cows are fed a balanced diet in addition to pasture. Cow comfort is a primary motivation on the farm. Cows rest on water beds and have access to sprinklers in hot weather. Each cow is treated as an individual and each one is loved. The Eshes have 9 children, 6 still at home.
Emanuel and Ruth Schmucker
Emanuel and Ruth are the parents of 12 children. The whole family works with their flock of 40 milking sheep, 12 grass-fed beef and 6 acres of vegetables on their farm in Clarion County Pennsylvania.
David and Rebecca Schmucker
David and Rebecca are the parents of 5 children. David is Emanuel’s brother, and both share a love of sheep and the land. In addition to milking 25 sheep, David and Rebecca run a machine shop and are famous for producing quality heirloom tomatoes on their farm in Clarion County.
Ezra and Anna Peachey
Ezra and Anna refer to themselves as “part time” farmers. Their 4 sons and 2 daughters are largely responsible for caring for their 25 goats and producing the food for them as Ezra works off the farm. Anna also makes goat milk fudge for the local farmers market.
John and Annie Zook
John and Annie milk 25 sheep near Jacksonville, Pennsylvania. John is a first-generation shepherd, although he has milked dairy cows before. John and Annie have 5 children.