Artisanal Farmhouse Cheese
Goot Essa began in 2001 as a six-family cooperative. Our goal has always been to use our cheesemaking expertise to ensure every generation has the means to stay on the farm.
We work our fields in the traditional way – with horses and manpower instead of machines. Every member contributes to the good of the farm, the family, and in turn, the whole community. Our farms are small, allowing each acre and animal to be cared for with love and respect for nature.
Goot Essa’s small-batch approach to cheesemaking ensures our products are flavorful and unique. We want you to experience food fresh from the farm, processed at the peak of flavor.
In the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, “Goot Essa” means “good food” or “good eating.” It’s only natural we named our group Goot Essa, because we want to share our love for handcrafted, European-style cheese with you — so you can share it with friends and family.
Many aspects of Amish life are unique and rooted in tradition. For example, on Sundays, we do not do business of any kind (other than caring for our animals). Also, Amish people are rarely photographed. Because we are not connected to the electrical grid, we only use computers for business purposes. You won’t see “award-winning” labels on our cheese because we don’t believe that good, honest food should be a competition. We believe in making great cheese that connects back to the land, and we look forward to sharing new flavors and experiences with 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.
Anna Mary makes the Goot Essa fudge and apple butter. Besides enjoying her family and her garden, she enjoys developing recipes with Goot Essa cheese. Her favorite cheese is Old German Weissa Kase.
Steven Fisher, Sales Manager
Many customers have their first interaction with Goot Essa through Steven. 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 6 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 dedicated to their craft, which emphasizes preserving our rich cheese traditions and exploring new methods. They make only a few kinds of cheese each so that they can concentrate on ensuring exceptional quality, batch after batch.
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
Unlike large commercial cheesemakers, Goot Essa works directly with our farm suppliers to ensure the milk we use is as fresh as possible. As a result, our cheeses feature a defining buttery taste that we’re sure you’ll love. 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 cattle, and six 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.
Henry and Rhoda Wengerd
Henry, Rhoda and their 4 children operate a small farm in the Sinking Valley of Pennsylvania. They milk a small herd of goats, producing high quality milk for Goot Essa to use in our goat milk cheeses.
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.