November 27, 2019 | by Tafline Laylin

Washington dairy farmer goes from having nothing to achieving her ultimate dream

21-year-old Zalaika Hill narrates the story of how her mother came to own The Ruiz Farm and Golden Glen Creamery

Norma Ruiz always dreamed of owning a large piece of open land —  a place where her whole family could live. Also a place where she could keep “a bunch of animals,” says her daughter, Zalaika Hill. In this short video, 21-year-old Hill describes how her mother went from humble beginnings to achieving her ultimate dream.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t always easy. But now Ruiz is the proud owner of The Ruiz Farm, a Washington dairy that milks around 120 Holstein and Jersey cows, and Golden Glen Creamery, which makes over 20 different kinds of handmade cheese. Located in Bow, the dairy ships their milk to Darigold.

A Mexican family poses for a group photo

Norma Ruiz always dreamed of having a place where her whole family could live; finally that dream came true.

Transcript (Zalaika Hill narrates):

“We are located over in Bow, Washington, which is an hour and a half north of Seattle. We have 250 Jersey and Holstein cows. Of those 250, we have 120 that we milk. And from that milk we take a certain percentage that helps us make 21 different types of cheeses and butter, which we distribute over at local farmer’s markets around Northwest Washington.

My name is Zalaika Hill and I am 21-years-old and I’m the daughter of Norma Ruiz, who is a dairy farmer. My mom and my family are from Mexico and my mom’s dream was always to own a really big open land, where we can have all of our family live together and have a whole bunch of animals.

In 2006, we moved up to Whidbey Island, Washington from the Bay area in California. And my parents came up here to manage a pizza parlor. During 2009, my parents got separated, which is when my mom began to work part-time at a farm on Whidbey Island for Steve Hilborn. [And then] an opportunity came about in 2014 to buy Golden Glen Creamery, which my mom’s [never been] a risk-taker, but she took the risk and decided to go for it.

Three Latina women pose for a group photo

Three generations of Ruiz women on Norma Ruiz’s dairy in Bow, Washington

And then two years after that, the dairy next to the creamery ended up coming up for sale. And again she took the chance, took the leap of faith, and bought it — with the help of FSA — and now she’s a proud owner of The Ruiz Farm and then the Golden Glen Creamery.

Growing up, my family didn’t really have much. And seeing my mom take risks and seeing who she is now from when I was little, encourages me. It makes me strive for the future and that there is better. And I look to my mom … she’s my hero. She’s my motivation. She helps me get through the day, because just seeing somebody, you know, as a child — I know she’s my mother, but seeing her from not having anything to having literally her dream — makes me really happy and appreciate her and look up to her in so many different ways.”

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