Local farm’s ‘kids’ behind award-winning cheese

When you go to the farmer's market at Dupont Circle on Sunday mornings, you'll probably meet Michael Koch and Pablo Solanet of Firefly Farms, producers of locally made goat cheeses. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
When you go to the farmer’s market at Dupont Circle on Sunday mornings, you’ll probably meet Michael Koch and Pablo Solanet of Firefly Farms, producers of locally made goat cheeses. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
You don't have to take their word for the quality of their cheeses. Mike and Pablo offer tastes of their cheeses at the Fresh Farms market at Dupont Circle each Sunday. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
You don’t have to take their word for the quality of their cheeses. Mike and Pablo offer tastes of their cheeses at the Fresh Farms market at Dupont Circle each Sunday. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Mike Koch is now Executive Director of Fresh Farm Markets. The Dupont Circle farmer's market is year-round, so his Firefly Farms winter cap comes in handy.
 (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Mike Koch is now Executive Director of Fresh Farm Markets. The Dupont Circle farmer’s market is year-round, so his Firefly Farms winter cap comes in handy. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Pablo Solanet is not only Mike's partner at Firefly Farms, he's Mike's life-partner. The two are married and have turned their mutual love of food and farming into an enterprise that allows them to share their passions for eating well and boosting small businesses.
(WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Pablo Solanet is not only Mike’s partner at Firefly Farms, he’s Mike’s life-partner. The two are married and have turned their mutual love of food and farming into an enterprise that allows them to share their passions for eating well and boosting small businesses. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Pictured here is Merry Goat Round Cheese, one of the first cheeses Firefly Farms produced. It's their biggest seller among the aged cheeses and is a multiple medal winner (10 awards nationally and internationally). (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Pictured here is Merry Goat Round Cheese, one of the first cheeses Firefly Farms produced. It’s their biggest seller among the aged cheeses and is a multiple medal winner (10 awards nationally and internationally). (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Merry Goat Round Cheese: This is the package you'll bring home when you buy from their shop in Garrett County, or at one of the many retailers who stock it now. Large chains like Whole Foods stock their cheeses, as do local specialty shops like Cheesetique in Alexandria and Dawson's Market in Rockville. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Merry Goat Round Cheese: This is the package you’ll bring home when you buy from their shop in Garrett County, or at one of the many retailers who stock it now. Large chains like Whole Foods stock their cheeses, as do local specialty shops like Cheesetique in Alexandria and Dawson’s Market in Rockville. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
So where does that goat cheese come from? Why, happy goats of course! Kevin Yutzy's farm just outside of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, is home to about 100 goats that produce the milk for Firefly Farms. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
So where does that goat cheese come from? Why, happy goats of course! Kevin Yutzy’s farm just outside of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, is home to about 100 goats that produce the milk for Firefly Farms. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Goats are curious, hardy creatures. Kevin's goats can roam his property and are eager to greet visitors. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Goats are curious, hardy creatures. Kevin’s goats can roam his property and are eager to greet visitors. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The barn is filled when the weather gets raw. On the day WTOP visited in October, sleet and snow flurries made the barn the place to be.  (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The barn is filled when the weather gets raw. On the day WTOP visited in October, sleet and snow flurries made the barn the place to be. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
These ‘kids’ are just like your kids, Yutzy says. “When they’re little, they take a lot of time and effort!” (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
This little guy is checking out what his neighbors are up to. "They're curious animals," says Yutzy, which is a double edged sword. It can be entertaining and exasperating as they learn how to do things like open latches. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
This little guy is checking out what his neighbors are up to. “They’re curious animals,” says Yutzy, which is a double-edged sword. It can be entertaining and exasperating as they learn how to do things like open latches. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
This little kid wants to know if the camera is edible. Goats seem to learn by tasting everything, including a WTOP reporter. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
This little kid wants to know if the camera is edible. Goats seem to learn by tasting everything, including a WTOP reporter. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy takes a head count. He's got about 100 goats -- Saanen, Alpine and Lamanchas. 
 (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy takes a head count. He’s got about 100 goats — Saanen, Alpine and Lamanchas. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy says each goat has its own personality. Some are more approachable and friendly -- they certainly enjoy following him, hoping for an extra serving of food. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy says each goat has its own personality. Some are more approachable and friendly — they certainly enjoy following him, hoping for an extra serving of food. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy cradles a little kid that's followed him throughout our visit at his Meyersdale, Pennsylvania farm. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy cradles a little kid that’s followed him throughout our visit at his Meyersdale, Pennsylvania farm. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy says there are two types of people: those who really like goats and those who can't stand them. You can see which camp he belongs to in this photo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy says there are two types of people: those who really like goats and those who can’t stand them. You can see which camp he belongs to in this photo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) ((WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Lining up for food inside the barn at Yutzy's farm. His goats produce the milk for Firefly Farms. Lately, the popularity of goat's milk as a substitute for almond and cow's milk has grown.  (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Lining up for food inside the barn at Yutzy’s farm. His goats produce the milk for Firefly Farms. Lately, the popularity of goat’s milk as a substitute for almond and cow’s milk has grown. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Wake up calls are handled by the farm's rooster, who's not sure why the goats are getting all the attention at Yutzy's Meyersdale, Pennsylvania goat farm. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Wake up calls are handled by the farm’s rooster, who’s not sure why the goats are getting all the attention at Yutzy’s Meyersdale, Pennsylvania goat farm. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Once the goats are milked, the milk is transported to the Firefly Farms Creamery and store in Accident, Maryland, in Garrett County.  (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Once the goats are milked, the milk is transported to the Firefly Farms Creamery and store in Accident, Maryland, in Garrett County. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The cheeses are produced, aged and stored at the creamery in Accident, Maryland. Here the different varieties are kept apart; different molds create different characteristics, and each cheese also needs particular care and handling. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The cheeses are produced, aged and stored at the creamery in Accident, Maryland. Here the different varieties are kept apart; different molds create different characteristics, and each cheese also needs particular care and handling. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Some of the eight different varieties of cheese produced by Firefly Farms are seen here. Mike and Pablo say they vary in intensity, including mild cheeses. “For those who think they don't like goat cheese," jokes Pablo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Some of the eight different varieties of cheese produced by Firefly Farms are seen here. Mike and Pablo say they vary in intensity, including mild cheeses. “For those who think they don’t like goat cheese,” jokes Pablo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
More of the cheeses produced at Firefly Farms. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
More of the cheeses produced at Firefly Farms. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Outside the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market in Accident, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Outside the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market in Accident, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Goats greet you at the farm where they're milked, and they greet you here at the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market in Accident, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Goats greet you at the farm where they’re milked, and they greet you here at the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market in Accident, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Custom-made artwork on the walls celebrates goat farming. Cheese lovers flock to the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market for shopping and tastings. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Custom-made artwork on the walls celebrates goat farming. Cheese lovers flock to the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market for shopping and tastings. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Wine and cheese tastings are a regular part of the experience of a visit to the shop in Garrett County, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Wine and cheese tastings are a regular part of the experience of a visit to the shop in Garrett County, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The table is set for a wine and cheese tasting at Firefly Farms Creamery. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The table is set for a wine and cheese tasting at Firefly Farms Creamery. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Owners of Firefly Farms, Mike Koch and Pablo Solanet, believe in promoting locally produced goods of all sorts, including these goats milk soaps from Frederick County, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Owners of Firefly Farms, Mike Koch and Pablo Solanet, believe in promoting locally produced goods of all sorts, including these goats milk soaps from Frederick County, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Soon, these visitors will sit down to a tasting and Pablo will walk them through the various cheeses and wines and suggest pairings for dining at home. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Soon, these visitors will sit down to a tasting and Pablo will walk them through the various cheeses and wines and suggest pairings for dining at home. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
There are sweet treats as well as savory foods at Firefly Farms Creamery. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
There are sweet treats as well as savory foods at Firefly Farms Creamery. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
You can stop in at the Firefly Farms Creamery for bread, cheese, wine, snacks and even goat milk soap. You can get advice on wine and cheese pairings, you might be directed to other locally grown and produced items, or you just might want to say hello to those imposing goats standing sentry at the door. Either way, they'll be happy to see you. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
You can stop in at the Firefly Farms Creamery for bread, cheese, wine, snacks and even goat milk soap. You can get advice on wine and cheese pairings, you might be directed to other locally grown and produced items, or you just might want to say hello to those imposing goats standing sentry at the door. Either way, they’ll be happy to see you. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
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When you go to the farmer's market at Dupont Circle on Sunday mornings, you'll probably meet Michael Koch and Pablo Solanet of Firefly Farms, producers of locally made goat cheeses. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
You don't have to take their word for the quality of their cheeses. Mike and Pablo offer tastes of their cheeses at the Fresh Farms market at Dupont Circle each Sunday. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Mike Koch is now Executive Director of Fresh Farm Markets. The Dupont Circle farmer's market is year-round, so his Firefly Farms winter cap comes in handy.
 (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Pablo Solanet is not only Mike's partner at Firefly Farms, he's Mike's life-partner. The two are married and have turned their mutual love of food and farming into an enterprise that allows them to share their passions for eating well and boosting small businesses.
(WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Pictured here is Merry Goat Round Cheese, one of the first cheeses Firefly Farms produced. It's their biggest seller among the aged cheeses and is a multiple medal winner (10 awards nationally and internationally). (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Merry Goat Round Cheese: This is the package you'll bring home when you buy from their shop in Garrett County, or at one of the many retailers who stock it now. Large chains like Whole Foods stock their cheeses, as do local specialty shops like Cheesetique in Alexandria and Dawson's Market in Rockville. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
So where does that goat cheese come from? Why, happy goats of course! Kevin Yutzy's farm just outside of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, is home to about 100 goats that produce the milk for Firefly Farms. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Goats are curious, hardy creatures. Kevin's goats can roam his property and are eager to greet visitors. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The barn is filled when the weather gets raw. On the day WTOP visited in October, sleet and snow flurries made the barn the place to be.  (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
This little guy is checking out what his neighbors are up to. "They're curious animals," says Yutzy, which is a double edged sword. It can be entertaining and exasperating as they learn how to do things like open latches. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
This little kid wants to know if the camera is edible. Goats seem to learn by tasting everything, including a WTOP reporter. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy takes a head count. He's got about 100 goats -- Saanen, Alpine and Lamanchas. 
 (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy says each goat has its own personality. Some are more approachable and friendly -- they certainly enjoy following him, hoping for an extra serving of food. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy cradles a little kid that's followed him throughout our visit at his Meyersdale, Pennsylvania farm. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Yutzy says there are two types of people: those who really like goats and those who can't stand them. You can see which camp he belongs to in this photo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Lining up for food inside the barn at Yutzy's farm. His goats produce the milk for Firefly Farms. Lately, the popularity of goat's milk as a substitute for almond and cow's milk has grown.  (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Wake up calls are handled by the farm's rooster, who's not sure why the goats are getting all the attention at Yutzy's Meyersdale, Pennsylvania goat farm. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Once the goats are milked, the milk is transported to the Firefly Farms Creamery and store in Accident, Maryland, in Garrett County.  (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The cheeses are produced, aged and stored at the creamery in Accident, Maryland. Here the different varieties are kept apart; different molds create different characteristics, and each cheese also needs particular care and handling. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Some of the eight different varieties of cheese produced by Firefly Farms are seen here. Mike and Pablo say they vary in intensity, including mild cheeses. “For those who think they don't like goat cheese," jokes Pablo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
More of the cheeses produced at Firefly Farms. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Outside the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market in Accident, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Goats greet you at the farm where they're milked, and they greet you here at the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market in Accident, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Custom-made artwork on the walls celebrates goat farming. Cheese lovers flock to the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market for shopping and tastings. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Wine and cheese tastings are a regular part of the experience of a visit to the shop in Garrett County, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
The table is set for a wine and cheese tasting at Firefly Farms Creamery. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Owners of Firefly Farms, Mike Koch and Pablo Solanet, believe in promoting locally produced goods of all sorts, including these goats milk soaps from Frederick County, Maryland. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Soon, these visitors will sit down to a tasting and Pablo will walk them through the various cheeses and wines and suggest pairings for dining at home. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
There are sweet treats as well as savory foods at Firefly Farms Creamery. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
You can stop in at the Firefly Farms Creamery for bread, cheese, wine, snacks and even goat milk soap. You can get advice on wine and cheese pairings, you might be directed to other locally grown and produced items, or you just might want to say hello to those imposing goats standing sentry at the door. Either way, they'll be happy to see you. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — Maybe you’ve visited a farmers market and enjoyed the freshness of the food: apples that are crisp, not mealy, eggs with golden yolks that scramble into a fluffy delight … But who’s behind that produce?

Putting a face to the farm is part of what Mike Koch likes to do. He’s the executive director at Fresh Farm Markets that operates farmers markets from Dupont Circle to St. Michaels, Maryland. Koch wants everyone to enjoy the bounty of the farmers’ labors, and loves putting the spotlight on the small businesses that sprout from farm operations.

Koch has a real appreciation for the farmers at the markets he administers; he’s a producer himself. Koch and his business partner Pablo Solanet, a former chef, started experimenting with cheese-making after buying property in Garrett County. A neighbor had some goats, they asked if they could milk them, and Firefly Farms was born.

By 2002, they had an award-winning cheese called “Merry Goat Round,” and expanded from testing cheeses in their kitchen to a full-blown farm operation. Now, the two — who have since married — buy their goat’s milk from Kevin Yutzy, a farmer in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, and operate the Firefly Farms Creamery and Market in Accident, Maryland.

The shop offers the full line of Firefly Farms’ cheeses and spotlights other locally grown and produced foods and wines. There are wine tastings at the market, where customers can explore what foods and wines pair best with their favorite cheese. And the store, on the main street of Accident, offers a window on the process of cheese-making — literally. There are windows that allow customers to see the process from when the curds are separated from the whey, to how each variety of cheese is packed and aged.

Looking for recipes for your upcoming Thanksgiving Day feast? Firefly Farms has some ideas — click here to learn more.

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