Cornwall Life visits Treveador Farm that sells cheese to top restaurants and delis
PUBLISHED: 16:25 29 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:15 20 February 2013
Cornwall LIfe visits Treveador Farm, a dairy farm that produces cheese sold to many local delicatessens and top Cornish restaurants
Cornish dairy farmer Alastair Rogers had wanted to diversify for some time, but it was only when he met Bernadette Newman that his dreams and plans became a reality. I had farmed since I was 16 and lived and worked at Condurrow Farm in St Anthony-in-Meneage, explains Alastair. I had a go at making ice cream in the 1990s but I was only playing at it and the time didnt seem right.
Thanks to Objective One funding, in 2001 farms were offered money and incentives to diversify and Alastair went on a cheese-making course in Cheshire. I really enjoyed it. Locally produced cheese was an up-and-coming product then and I found the whole process of making it a fun, hands-on process, he continues. At the time we had 150 cows but I thought it was too high a risk to turn the whole herd into cheese-making and I couldnt continue dairy farming and make cheese at the same time.
Meanwhile, life was changing. Alastairs son, Jon, took over the farm and Alastair moved a few miles away to Treveador Farm, a lovely house hidden away at the end of a long lane, perched high above the banks of the Helford River. Alastair and Bernadette met in 2006. We were walking around the garden one day, Bernadette recalls, when I saw the two small outbuildings attached to the back of the house. I thought this was the perfect place for a small dairy. And with that, the business began.
I spent the first summer painting and cleaning, says Bernadette. Then we tried out all different ways of making cheese with different recipes and timescales. A lot of those first batches were thrown away but we had faith in what we were doing, she says, and persevered.
We didnt rush, and we let the business grow at its own pace, adds Alastair. It was important to get it right. The first year was quite a journey for us and we learned a lot.
Alastair and Bernadette decided to make two different cheeses: a soft, white cheese with a pink rind called Helford White and a soft, blue cheese called Blue Horizon. We were struggling to get the right amount of blue in our cheese; it just wasnt working properly, says Bernadette. So Alastair went on a course run by French cheese-making consultant Ivan Larcher and came back with some excellent ideas, one of which was to design his own cheese piercer. That seemed to do the trick, Alastair says. We havent looked back since. We didnt use all of Ivan Larchers ideas, just the ones we thought best suited to our business.
Thats the same with all the people weve gone to for help or advice, adds Bernadette. We dont use everything we learn, but tailor it to fit Treveador. The same applies to businesses we approach with our product. They may not be interested in it but we have learned a lot from them and even if were turned down, we use the rejection constructively. After all, we want to produce a cheese that people will like and want to buy again and again.
This theory seems to be working well, since in two years production of Treveador Farm cheese has grown considerably and it can now be found at many farm shops and delicatessens throughout Cornwall and at restaurants such as Fifteen and Trelowarren. Bernadette runs a regular stall at various farmers markets, including the monthly one at Helston and the Friday morning one in Penzance. They are now beginning to make larger 1kg cheeses, which are sent out of county to Holsworthy, Totnes and Tavistock in Devon. The couple are just starting to invest in having stalls at food fairs, such as the one held at Trereife House over Easter.
My son, Jon, has between 200 and 300 Holstein Friesian cows at Condurrow, says Alastair. We buy all our milk from there, which is actually a very small amount of what he produces. From that milk, we make around 300 cheeses a week, thats about 80 kilos of cheese. We are delighted that people like our cheese and its great to have it in such high-profile shops and restaurants. Prestige helps sales, but we are fully aware that the product must stand up on its own. Its no good making a cheese that people dont enjoy.
Theres no harm in that happening. Ive had calls from shops saying theyve run out, concludes Bernadette, and from individuals too, asking where they can buy it. Its flying off the shelves as soon as its put there!
Having experimented and learned over the last few years, it seems that Alastair and Bernadette have invented a truly good product, which will surely be on the shelves and dinner tables now for many more years to come.
By Lesley Double
Treveador Farm Dairy, St Martin, Helston TR12 6BZ; 01326 231597; www.treveadorfarmdairy.co.uk