Virtual Cheese Awards Sustainability Champions
We are delighted to announce that Jenny and Mark have been recognised by the Virtual Cheese Awards as Sustainability Champions. The award, which was sponsored by the amazing Wyke Farms (who also make yummy cheese), identified that from field to cheese board we are exceptional at producing a high-quality product, whilst ensuring the environment benefits from the whole process.
“We feel honoured to have received such an important award from the VCA’s, which is recognition for the way we approach our entire farming system,” said Jenny last week. ” From our mindset change back in 2015 when we began researching a more sustainable, organic approach to dairy farming, up until today, our principles have been driving us to produce a high quality nutrient dense product while ensuring we protect, regenerate and improve our farm and local community. By converting to being an organic 100% pasture fed herd, we had to drastically alter our approach to what we grow, how we grow it and how our cows graze the paddocks.”
Over 120 acres of the farm has been planted with species rich herbal leys, naturally fixing nitrogen in the soil and providing a healthy diet for the herd free from imported grains and soya. The improvement in the soil health has been helped by planting of over 4km of hedgerows and 40 acres of wooded pasture within the grazing paddocks. portions of fields bordering the 25 acres of ancient woodland have been fenced off and wetland areas are being reintroduced to increase the wildlife diversity. By completely eliminating all chemicals on the land, Jen and Mark have used livestock to manage and improve the soils. Mob grazing the herd has allowed the cows to improve the growth rates of the grasses and legumes by allowing up to 40 days regrowth before regrazing.
Pigs are used to turn over fields which are not performing as well and free range pastured chickens have also been used in a mobile polytunnel to improve growth. Whey, the by-product of the cheese making, is fed back to the calves, cows and pigs in a circular system which lowers cost and improves animal health.
“There is a lot of international focus on Regenerative farming as a way to produce high quality food and improve soils and sequester carbon from the atmosphere,” said Mark. “We have been focusing on a regenerative approach for the last 8 years, which is part of the reason for us hosting Down to Earth North on 6th July. This is a national conference looking at the ways we can all benefit from regenerative farming and a great event for us to showcase the farm, cheese and gelato”.
The Virtual Cheese awards has been established for several years and is recognised as one of the very best in the industry. In the lockdown period the VCA’s were the only awards functioning so were the de facto national championships! Last year the Torpenhow Farmhouse Dairy won the best organic soft cheese award, which is made with the rich milk produced from the cows grazing the diverse Cumbrian swards. Good for the palate and great for the soil and biodiversity, what’s not to like!