If anyone aspires to the life of a cheesemaker but is concerned about long-term success, the protean Mark Hardy and High Weald Dairy would be fine inspiration.
||British Friesian Cow
As is said, there are no secrets to success but fathomable reasons. In Mark’s case it is a combination of a questing mind, adaptability and a good team. He and wife Sarah have developed a thriving business in the Ashdown Forest from small beginnings. At the heart of their range lie the dairy’s sheep’s milk cheeses. Now made from the bought-in milk of a local flock, their recipes stem from High Weald’s foundation in 1986, when Mark and his parents started milking sheep at their home in Duddleswell to supply a cheese producer. They soon found that volume exceeded requirements so began crafting their own cheese, initially finding a willing market for a Halloumi style within London’s Cypriot community.
The sheep have gone, but in 2003 the business moved to its current premises, on a farm owned by Mark’s family, allowing them a plentiful supply of British Friesian milk as well as a place to connect with their community. As the cheese range has grown, the focus for Mark and Sarah has remained local, a desire to connect with their customers a priority that makes sense in terms of profitability as well as lifestyle, as to craft a product and never experience it being appreciated is the lot of many a farmer. The couple run cheese courses within a converted barn on site whose eves regularly witness the warmth of dinners and public events, something that requires much effort and late nights, though for the mindful cheesemaker there is the realisation that a happy customer is for life and not just for dinner.