Hi my name is Tom and Southdowns Dairy is me! I have wanted to be a dairy producer for many years and my journey to starting Southdowns has been very circuitous. I made a cheese pilgrimage, cycling through Italy and staying with small cheese makers and I have worked on farms my whole life from picking passion fruit in Australia to cucumbers in hull. I have harvested reeds for thatching and worked as a scientist researching the effect of agro chemicals on the aquatic environment. I grew vegetables for an organic box scheme and most recently worked on a Sussex dairy farm.
I feel very lucky to have found the farmers who I work with, It is easy to keep things simple when you start with great milk.
Why we make it-
Over the past 10 years I have seen beautiful small dairy farms having to intensify their farming systems or even stop farming. With the pressure to produce very low cost milk many farms have found that they cannot produce milk at the price they are paid without compromising the welfare of their cows. Fortunately there are some farmers who have been able to survive this and are still doing things the right way. I feel very lucky to have found the farmers who I work with, It is easy to keep things simple when you start with great milk.
How we make it-
We produce yoghurt with milk from South Farm, Rodmell. We make the yoghurt in the farmhouse kitchen. Our yoghurt is thickened naturally by straining. It is a whole milk yoghurt made from raw, unhomogenised milk. We take the milk directly from the farm and use our lovely, old vat to gently pasteurise and ferment the milk. We hang the yoghurt in straining bags to remove some of the whey from the yoghurt. We stir it briefly so that the cream that separates slightly from the milk during the fermentation is mixed in to produce a yoghurt with a soft, smooth texture with tart and creamy flavour notes.
Who we work with-
We work with the farmers at South Farm who have been producing milk with their herd of British Friesians for over 50 years. The cows are a hardy breed, well suited to the climate and are able to be grazed outside all year round. The farm is run using methods which would be considered old fashioned by most large dairy farmers. Although the dairy herd is the focus of the farm it is a true mixed farm, pigs and sheep are kept and the male calves are reared for beef (another advantage of the British Friesian breed). Forage crops are grown to supplement the cows diet during winter months.