Episode 32 Tom Foot
Co Founder of the Open Air Dairy

In this episode we’re going to learn alot about dairy farming, milk and happy cows.  Grab a notebook, there is a lot to learn!

Tom Foot and Neil Grigg are too humble to say this, but in building up their Open Air Dairy, they’ve become true pioneers in their industry. What they do is awesome.  Cows that live 13 years instead of 3 in intensive farming, less antibiotics, happier cows, happier humans, happier fields, awesome milk and cheese…what they’ve achieved is exciting for the future of farming.

Like many tenant farmers, they didn’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds to build conventional sheds and indoor milking systems.  So when a fantastic farm came their way, they had to think outside the box. Or as one observer put it, they took the box, ripped it up completely and threw it away! 

Inspired by a farmer in the 1920s, they’ve transformed second-hand trailers and bails into mobile milking parlours. Instead of herding their cattle to a shed every day, they take the sheds direct to the cows. Everything really is done in the open air, all year round! 

What started as a cost-saving exercise – and the figures will astound you – has thrown up so many more benefits: great tasting milk; family-friendly working hours and super-relaxed cattle. I should know. A few of them enjoyed rubbing themselves against me as I recorded this conversation with Tom.   

Enjoy my nervousness as I work out whether they are bulls or heffers.

Episode 23 Emily Davis
Blue Vinny Cheese

‘Unique’ is often misused as a word, but this week you’ll hear about a delicious food product that really is one of a kind.  In the early 1980s, dairy farmer Michael Davies resurrected a 300 year-old recipe for Dorset Blue Vinny – a subtly veined cheese which is much more delicate than Stilton, its nearest relative.   

Nowadays, Michael’s daughter Emily is in charge of production – overseeing the only farm in the world that has the legal right to produce this type of blue cheese. 

Today you’ll hear how the patient Davies family had to put up with blue mould on their cornflakes, in the early days of Michael’s cheese experiments…and why Emily describes beta versions as ‘nuclear’! 

You’ll also discover how a disappointing trip to a farmers’ market led to a whole new branch of the Blue Vinny business…and why wonky cucumbers and misshapen cheese off-cuts have a special place in Emily’s heart… 

Enjoy the conversation… 

Episode 20 Joy Michaud
Sea Spring Seeds

Michael and Joy Michaud at Sea Spring Seeds are chilli growing experts who took the world by surprise one April 1st, when they revealed they’d developed the world’s hottest chilli plant, the Dorset Naga. It wasn’t an April fool, even though it seemed absurd that this world record-breaking chilli had been reared in a lush, damp corner of Dorset, far removed from its original Bangladeshi home.

The patience and dedication it takes to develop a unique and world first type of chilli was a real eye opener.  The Dorset Naga is just one of many wonderful chillis  grown by the couple – along with a wide range of vegetable seeds, carefully selected for their productivity and flavour, like the tender sweet roots of the Primo carrot!

In this programme I get some great chilli-culinary tips  from Joy… as well as an insight into the huge dedication and patience that goes into creating those tiny miracles: seeds….

Episode 17 Michael Stoates
Stoate and Sons traditional miller

Michael Stoate is a fifth generation miller in Dorset, whose family have been producing stoneground flour since 1832.  That means he knows a lot about flour.  It was the era when sailing ketches would carry the flour across the Severn to Swansea and return with coal for the mills. As a teenager he thought he’d be an engineer but he had so much fun getting his hands dirty in the holidays he couldn’t help but join the family business.
 

In this conversation you’ll learn about the wonder of wheat germ – the embryo of life, which gives bread its gorgeous flavour – and what really happens to it in modern mechanised milling… That might help you work out how bread now can last for days, but when you were a kid, or in France, it lasted just a few hours.
 
And you’ll see how Michael has adapted to the ever-changing bread scene: from the lows of the late 80s and 90s, when his whole-food shop market disappeared to brighter times, with our growing interest in continental breads, artisanal baking and sourdough.
 
I learnt a lot, and I hope you do too.  Enjoy x

Episode 14
Ceri Cryer – Brinkworth Dairy

In 1910 Ceri Cryer’s great-grandfather established the country’s first ever pedigree Friesian herd of cows, in a beautiful corner of Wiltshire.

A hundred years later, Ceri is doing her family’s farming history proud: the Friesian descendants produce the milk which Ceri turns into award-winning cheeses – from the traditional Wiltshire Loaf to newcomers, such as the oozilyunctiuous  Royal Bassett Blue.

In this conversation we discover where Wiltshire cheeses feature in Jane Austin’s novels…and how each batch of Ceri’s cheese is influenced by a mind-blowing number of factors, starting from the herbs her cows nibble in the fields

That’s in addition to exploring the real cost of milk and yoghurt, and why Ceri is unlikely to give you a discount, but her husband Chad might …

Plus you’ll get Ceri’s top tips on how not to waste a crumb of food.  This includes feeding leftover home-made mead to the pigs, with some interesting results….

Enjoy the conversation