My Pontiac Story: Amy McIntyre of City Girls Farm

Amy and John McIntyre are city people at heart. That's why they run their City Girls Farm, a goat livestock operation, out of the city of Pontiac, rather than out in the country.

When asked why they started in the city instead of the sticks, owner Amy McIntyre responds, half-jokingly, "Because we don't want to live out in the sticks."

Though the McIntyres' reasons run deeper than that. The family got its start in the goat business simply enough; the McIntyres' daughter began having problems with lactose and, in 2011, Amy read online that goat milk ice cream was a more suitable substitute for the traditional kind. The McIntyres bought a share in a herd of goats in Brighton and would drive an hour each way, once a week, to pick up a gallon of goat's milk to make ice cream for their daughter.

Soon, the family thought about running their own goat-based dairy farm, but eventually decided that it wasn't a sound business decision. However, a line of goat milk-based soap and lotion products, as it turns out, is a much better business to run.

The McIntyres bought their first goat in 2012--Winnie, who they still have today--and kept her on an urban farm in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood, where they initially thought they'd build their farm. But a series of meetings with city brass left the McIntyres exasperated. That frustration would lead to the fruition of City Girls Farm in Pontiac. The McIntyres partnered with Tim Travis, owner of Goldner Walsh Garden & Home, to purchase 3.5 acres adjacent to his nursery. City Girls Farm will celebrate their third anniversary in Pontiac this June.

Amy doesn't miss her former life as a bookkeeper and enjoys bringing neighborhood children into the farm to meet the goats.

"Agriculture is hard, but it's fun," Amy says. "On the hardest day, it's still better than on the best day as a bookkeeper."

The McIntyres now have 24 goats, and some of their does are pregnant again. In addition to their line of goat milk-based soaps, lotions, laundry detergents, and candles, the City Girls goats can be rented out for conservation grazing purposes.

Metromode asked Amy McIntyre about raising goats in the city of Pontiac, and the city itself.

Q: What do you love most about Pontiac?

I love the spirit of Pontiac. And the people. I think a lot of people don't have a choice to leave. A lady came one day to see the goats. A business left, and her job was gone, and she couldn't leave. But the people here are so open to the change that is happening that there's a shift--everyone's invested in it.

Q: Why did you come to Pontiac?

Honestly, it's the whole thing where you have to pivot, and with every meeting we went to in Detroit, it was like slamming your head against a brick wall. In Pontiac, it's been effortless. And then you get to know the people, and you start to think, I want Pontiac to get to experience the same thing that Detroit has right now. But it's going to be stronger because they're doing it without all the press. I think that's the cool thing. It's resilient.

Q: What's Pontiac's biggest challenge and how do you think it can be addressed?

The thing that worries me about Pontiac is the schools. I'm always concerned because I think when you have a city, you need to have the kids. It sounds trite, but they're the future. It needs to be a city where kids are welcomed and are valued. The ITA is a technical academy, and they don't have a science lab. And so, it has to be about the youth.

Q: What are your hopes for the city?

I hope it survives all of this. I hope it becomes a thriving urban center of really cool stuff. I really do. I just think it's awesome. It's a city smack dab in the middle of the wealthiest county in the state of Michigan. And it's not treated well. I want it to be treated well.

Q: What should people in metro Detroit know about Pontiac?

Don't be so scared of it. It's just another city that's fallen on hard times. People who come to the farm, they say, "I didn't even know it was here," and, "I never stop here." And it's like, are you kidding me? It's a city that's fallen on hard times, and it's not scary. I think there's such great potential here. It's amazing. People just need to see it. They need to come to Pontiac and see what's going on and tell people about it.

Learn more about City Girls Farm online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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