ADA, Mich. — A West Michigan elementary school teacher, who's also a goat farmer, has invented a 'Mobile Milking Parlor' which, when produced, will be the first of its kind in the United States.
Growing up in Ada, Mi., Leah Sienkowski says she's always been interested in farming and agriculture. After landing a job as a teacher at Ada Christian Elementary School, she lobbied to have a goat farm built behind the school so the students could use it for outdoor learning.
In 2016, the small farm was built, and populated with goats, allowing Leah to enjoy both of her life's passions in the same location.
As time progressed, Leah says she found that there really wasn't anyone in West Michigan doing sustainable dairy goat production.
"Goats eat a lot of nuisance plants that cows and sheep won't eat," Leah said. "[They eat] more brushy, thorny, poisonous plants that their stomach systems can digest and make milk from.
"There's a lot of people who can't digest cow milk but can digest goat milk."
In 2019, Leah had an idea, but knew she'd need state grant money to insure the idea had a chance of becoming reality.
"I applied for a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant, which is awarded to farmers and ranchers who pursue projects that they wouldn't otherwise."
Leah was awarded the grant in February 2019, and immediately began to use it by launching a business called, Dreamgoats, then began working on a project that would become the first of its kind in the United States.
"I came up with this idea for a Mobile Milking Parlor," said Leah. "It's basically a renovated, re-hacked trailer so goat farmers can milk goats safely, cleanly and efficiently while being away from the conveniences of their farm."
Leah says she worked with an Ada-based graphic designer to create the concept artwork for the project.
"In my case, it would be a great asset," Leah said. "I do education, so I could take the goats on trips, literally haul them in the trailer, bring them to locations like schools, libraries, anyplace of learning, then i can teach out of the parlor and show milking demonstrations."
Leah then realized that her idea might be of value to many people within the farming industry, not just in West Michigan, but nationwide as well.
"People who already clear land with goats could also milk their goats and get another source of income," said Leah. "Goats improve land as they graze."
With the concept of the project finished, Leah is now in the process of trying to solicit somebody who wants to help her begin producing the Parlors.
"I'm hoping that maybe a lot of people are interested in producing this," Leah said. "Please reach out to me if you're interested."
Leah will be hosting an online workshop at 6-30 p.m. on Saturday, January 30, where she will go much further in-depth about the project, as well as take your questions.
If you're interested in checking out the workshop, click HERE to RSVP.
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