09 Jul 18

Meet Maryland Farm: Cheese, as nature intended, from a happy herd

Farm Scenery

The Barber family’s passion for cheddar started almost two hundred years ago, back in 1833. Daniel Barber started making cheddar on his Maryland Farm in rural Somerset and six generations later the family is the oldest surviving cheddar makers in the world; and are as passionate about their cheese as Daniel was back in his day.

With almost three thousand acres, the Barber’s 2,000 Holstein Friesian cows spend their days eating the rich and lush pasture and roaming free, which in turn enables them to produce the creamy delicious milk required to make the smoothest award-winning cheddar.

Giles Barber says: “We’re proud of our heritage. But, we know that to make the best cheddar possible it’s all about animal welfare and keeping our cows as relaxed and as healthy as possible, grazing them in the wild where they belong.  Living the ‘good life’ then enables them to produce the highest quality milk, which in turn enables us to make truly authentic cheddar.”

With the farm only eleven miles away from the village of Cheddar, cheese making is in the lifeblood of this part of Somerset.“When the company was registered back in 1955, we were one of twelve cheddar makings in our parish alone.  Today, there’s only one, ourselves. We pride ourselves on being a farming and cheesemaking business that is driven by quality, from the farm through to the dairy. We pride ourselves in being one of the last producers to still use our one heritage starter cultures that we nurture and grow on our farm. These original cultures date back to the 1970’s and create an indigenous cheese flavor from the home of cheddar.

This cheese producing family is also the sole guardian of the UK’s last remaining traditional cheese starter cultures. “These are the ‘friendly’ bacteria need start the whole process and it’s these cultures, which have been handed down since Daniel was in charge, that enable us to make a true West Country cheddar.”

Whilst heritage and tradition play a key role on Maryland Farm, new technology and innovation has also been embraced.  “To be award-winning you must keep up with the times. But, there are parts of our cheese making process that are done by hand and always will be.  To make a great cheese also requires the expertise and intuition of an expert cheesemaker, and at Maryland Farm, we have these in abundance.

“Our curds go through the traditional cheddaring process by hand and are then packed and matured in one of over 500,000 traditional cheese boxes we still use. But when it comes to cutting and packaging, we use the latest technology and state-of -the-art facilities.”

Cows on Farm

As the UK’s most complete single site cheese making operation – from starter culture product to retail packing, Maryland Farm is unique.  Proudly, Giles Barber also confirms: “We’re holders of the EC “Protected Designation of Origin” or PDO for West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, which is hugely important to us. This means, that whenever you eat a slice of our cheddar you absolutely know you’re enjoying the real thing.”

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