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Who we are

We are Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore. We have two lovely kiddies, Arthur and Ottilie, and our favourite things (apart from cows) are travelling, eating, being outdoors, being creative and having some family time.

Jonny is the main cheesemaker, the driving force behind our raw milk sales and has dedicated his working life so far to developing the farm, alongside his father Graham, Mother Frances and our fab team of staff.

Graham has been working on Fen Farm since the tender age of 8, when it was owned by his uncle, Richard Cook and older sister, Joy. Although Richard and Joy are sadly no longer with us, their hard work and legacy lives on and in recent years, Jonny and Graham have together taken the business from strength to strength.

Frances is a talented artist, photographer and cook and stalwart support to the team on the farm.

I (Dulcie) hang out back stage, writing things (like this website), working on our branding and marketing, helping with the development of our cheese, dodging flying food from toddlers and generally organising things. In my day job I am a costume maker for film and theatre.

Greener Farming

We all know dairy farms are up there with the worst of them when it comes to environmental pollution. Just think about all those millions of cow pats, let alone the fuel guzzled by the tractors and the food miles clocked up by the tankers taking milk to the big processing plant hundreds of miles away. We’re all too aware of this and we don’t want to be carbon monsters. There’s not a lot we can do about the methane…eh-hem, cows will fart, but we’re doing our best to make up for it in other ways. Call it cowbon-offsetting if you like! (There, we’re allowed one cow-related pun. Boom Boom!)

 

Here are just some of the ways in which we’re trying to be different:

 

Solar power:

We recently installed a 50kw solar panel system. On sunny days, the panels produce enough energy to power our whole farm. We only take energy from the national grid on really dreary days.

Heat exchange:

We’ve harnessed the natural heat extracted from the fresh warm cows milk as it goes through the cooling system and we use it to help heat the water used for washing down the milking parlour. Clever eh?

Reduced fuel consumption:

We’re working our hardest to get our cows out to grass more. It’s a slow process as we are changing our breeding programme to a more robust, grass-eating breed of cow, the Montbelliarde. You can see them around the farm, they’re the chubby red and white ones. Changing the breed takes time but we’re moving in the right direction. The more grass they eat, the less fodder has to be grown for them and the less tractors are involved. Of course pastures need management but this takes a lot less machinery and fuel than growing and harvesting arable crops for feed. Within the next 5 years, we hope to see the majority of our herd out to grass for as much of the year as is physically possible. Of course they have to come inside for a bit when the fen’s flooded during the winter, or when it’s just too cold for the grass to grow but working with the good British climate, we are doing what we can.

Reduced food miles:

We are not yet able to process all of our milk on the farm. We do however make sure that our beef animals are slaughtered and sold locally and of course our raw drinking milk has only travelled a few metres from milking parlour to cow-print-shed, before you buy it. Our dream for the future is to be able to make all of our milk into dairy products on the farm. Just watch this space!

cows_walking_crop

 

 

 

Bungay, Suffolk

Nestled in the elbow of the beautiful River Waveney, Bungay is a bustling historic market town with a wealth of great  independent shops, restaurants, fine architecture and it’s own theatre. The town is surrounded by stunning water meadows, rich in wildlife which are overlooked by the ruins of Bungay Castle, once the seat of the rogue Baron Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and our cheese’s namesake.

Great things to do around Bungay

-Pack a picnic full of tasty things from Earsham Street Deli and spend a dreamy hour or two floating down the stunning River Waveney in a canadian canoe or kayak, hired from Outney Meadow Caravan Park. You can haul in your canoes and share your picnic with some of our cows who graze along the river there. Insider tip: they don’t like pastrami sandwiches!

-Walk the Bigod Way, an easy to moderate 10 mile circular walk following the river valley, then winding through the historic Bath Hills, past romantic Mettingham Castle and over Constitution Hill, with stunning panoramic views over Bungay, the Waveney River Valley and our own grazing land. You’ll blow the cobwebs away and also get a birds-eye view of the farm!

– Explore the ruins of Bungay Castle, the one-time home of the infamous Baron Hugh Bigod, renegade Earl of Norfolk and our cheese’s namesake, then re-fuel at Jester’s Cafe with one of their famous hot chocolates.

– Complete your foodie experience with a trip to a local vineyard or brewery such as Wisset Wines, St. Peters Brewery, Grain Brewery or the fabulous Green Dragon Inn, who brew their own real ale. The famous Adnams Brewery is just 30 mins away in the gorgeous coastal town of Southwold.

– Take a boat out for a day or a week on the beautiful Norfolk Broads.

– Sample the local fayre in some of the areas finest restaurants:

The Castle Inn, Bungay. 

The Suffolk Stonehouse, Bungay.

Earsham Street Cafe, Bungay.

The Dove Inn, Homersfield. 

Chameleon House, Harleston.

The Fox and Goose, Fressingfield.

The Bell, Wortwell.

The Crown and The Swan, Southwold. 

The Anchor, Walberswick.

The King’s Head, Brooke.

Satis House, Yoxford.

Stoke Mill, Stoke Holy Cross.

The Lemon Tree Bistro, Framlingham.

 

Friends

Over the past few years, some great and talented people have helped our business to become what it is today. Here is a list of some people who deserve our heartfelt thanks and a big shout out:

Neals Yard Dairy

Thanks in particular to Bronwen Percival, who has given us amazing support and advice, right from the beginning, when we were cheesemaking wannabe’s and our business was just a glint in the milkman’s eye! But also to the rest of the fantastic NYD team for their never ending support and encouragement.

Ivan Larcher, French Cheese God

Making a French cheese, we would be lost without the help of a true Frenchman. Thanks Ivan, for designing our cheesemaking rooms/equipment, for getting us on our feet and for teaching us how to answer our own questions!

Montbeliarde

-Ian and Steph Sharman – Thanks for inviting us to your farm and showing us that the Monty is the only way forward.

-Coopex Montbeliarde – Thanks to Ferreol Roche for chauffeuring us around no less than 35 French alpine farms in three days, in search of the finest cheesemaking Monty’s!

Building, engineering and technical:

– David Jordan and Roger Whiting, Builders – who have pretty much built our entire empire and done a very fine job!

– E&B Williams, plumbing and refrigeration – thanks Bo for figuring out all of our odd requests, including how we were going to move milk uphill from the parlour to the cheese building via gravity!

-Foster’s Refrigeration – who supplied our cold storage.

-Grace Resin Flooring – for a cheese room floor to be proud of.

Creative:

Alex Hammond, Designer – who has believed in us from the start and helped us to make our branding and marketing ideas a reality.

Gemma Wiseman, Artist and Graphic Designer – who drew the beautiful cows in our logo!

– Rory Fitzgerald, who shot and made our lovely short film.

Jez Thompson, Web Developer

Harry Read, Photographer.

– Katherine Mager, photographer.

Sarah Jane Leggett, Photographer and film maker.

Cheese and milk production:

– Thierry Lerendu, French cheesemaking consultant – This crazy man likes to come and hang out with us for weeks at a time and be worked half to death by Jonny in exchange for English lessons and trips to the pub. Our cheese wouldn’t be half the cheese it is today without his expert knowledge. Thanks Thierry!

– Dr. Paul Neaves of Williams & Neaves. Microbiology Consultant  – AKA the walking bible of dairy microbiology. Seriously. Look no further.

– Paul Thomas, Cheesemaking and Microbiology Consultant – thanks Paul for unravelling our many millions of technical questions (cheesemaking dilemmas keeping you awake?…ask Paul!)

– Rodney Allen, Top Flight Nutrition. Dairy nutritionist – the man who creates the finest a-la-carte menus for our Monty’s!

– Protein Feeds, Animal feed supplies – Thanks to Adrian and Chris for your continuing belief and support.

Three Rivers Vet Group – Mike Bardsley and the team, thanks for helping us to maintain a healthy herd.

– Simon Oxley of HSBC – for putting up with (and believing in) our crazy ideas!

 

Grant Funding:

We have been lucky enough to receive grant funding for our cheesemaking project from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The RDPE is funded by DEFRA and the EU. For more information, please visit the EU Commission’s rural development website, here.

 

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