We cannot imagine a more beautiful environment than the impressive Volcanic Eifel with its unspoilt flora and fauna for our goat cheese dairy "Vulkanhof" in Gillenfeld. It is exactly this beautiful environment that inspired us to name our farm. The remnants from the time when the volcanoes were still active are still visible today in the form of the idyllic Eifel maars - volcanic craters full of clear drinking water. Our Vulkanhof has been in existence since 1961, and my mother, Inge Thommes-Burbach, took it over from her parents in 1985 as a pure cow's milk farm. In 1995 it was completely converted to goat farming with an attached cheese dairy. With this we have opted for an agriculture that is actually untypical for the Eifel - and with great success.
Our family business has been awarded as one of the best cheese dairies in Germany ('Der Feinschmecker') and is appreciated all over the world for high-quality and fine goat cheese products. And this is no accident. Only Ziegenkäse vom Vulkanhof tastes like Ziegenkäse vom Vulkanhof. What sounds simple describes at the same time the essence of our products. Because only the unique combination of climate, soil and landscape of the Volcanic Eifel and our goats, our way of keeping them and our natural hay feed make our cheese what it is: a high-quality, natural quality product.
Our promise of quality starts with step 1, the feed for the goats, the milk supplier. Because good goat cheese can never be made without good milk: Only the best, natural fodder hay from our own, untreated meadows. For example, the goats love herbs, including sorrel and thistles. You can find these spices and flavours in our cheese! The cycle closes when we spread goat dung and whey as fertiliser. Our meadows are not watered. The annual rainfall is about 600- 700 litres/m² in the annual average.
The way we raise our animals makes them feel completely comfortable on the Vulkanhof. The main dwelling of our goats is a large stable, sprinkled with fresh straw and perfectly ventilated with healthy Eifel air. Here we supply our goats with everything they need to produce their very special milk. The unique fine taste of our goat cheese comes from the nutritious grasses and spicy herbs of the Eifel meadows around our farm. We cover our water requirements with the local water supply. The water comes partly from the directly adjacent Pulvermaar. With this we supply our goats and lambs, ourselves and the cheese dairy production.
In order to be able to guarantee the high quality of our products at all times, we naturally breed our offspring of goats ourselves. For the health of the animals and to avoid inbreeding, we buy additional bucks. Every year kids are born. We sell the bucks and from the female offspring we keep the best animals for breeding on our farm. Important criteria for the selection are longevity, health, good udders and claws of the goats, as well as good milk production with the best composition of ingredients. In this way we can constantly improve the quality of the goat's milk without having to keep more goats and thus we can always fall back on the best raw materials (hay from our own meadows).
In 2011, we have installed a photovoltaic system on our barn roof. We use most of the generated electricity ourselves. In 2015 we installed a heat pump with a combined ice storage and air heat pump to use geothermal energy. Since then, the energy requirement has been reduced by 25 %, because we can now mutually exploit the processes of cooling milk and cheese and heating the milk.
We are actively involved in the project "Blooming Volcanic Eifel". We have planted flower strips on the farm and installed a small walkway with information boards to actively draw attention to this topic. On the path you can find a great variety of species, among others the red forest ant has settled with us. The "Vulkaneifel Insect Oasis" is a district-wide project initiated and managed by the Lower Nature Conservation Authority and the Climate Protection Management of the Vulkaneifel District Administration. It is carried out in cooperation with the Vulkaneifel District Savings Bank and the Darscheid NEZ. The overall objective is to create a habitat for our insects within the village and, above all, to draw attention to the importance of biodiversity. With this project we want to encourage everyone to do their part!
Some employees have been part of our 14-member team for 14 years, which my family supports. Performance-related remuneration and cooperation is a matter of course for us. The Eifel is a low mountain range in Rhineland-Palatinate and is considered a structurally weak area. Today, tourism is of great economic importance and has slowly strengthened the infrastructure of the Eifel. Our employees come from the immediate vicinity, so we can offer our region important jobs today.
We are aware of the great responsibility towards animals, nature and ultimately people, and therefore our company philosophy is: We want to leave to future generations a balanced, intact economic, ecological and social structure with our farm. If, as a further effect, our customers - especially children and young people who take part in our popular guided tours and farm training courses - are sensitised to genuine, healthy regional products, to a careful use of resources, then all the better! We are proud of our farm. And grateful that we have been able to grow together in recent years - in the spirit of a sustainable philosophy.