Jonathan and Annabelle Crump are sustainable farmers and cheesemakers from Standish Park Farm in Gloucestershire. They make Double and Single Gloucester Cheese - the latter a PDO 'Protected Designation of Origin' - using only the milk from their Gloucester cows. Read their contribution to 'Stories within Our Isles', one which talks about their life and innovative workings on the farm, plus Annabelle's beautiful reportage photography that captures their daily lives.
We are tenant farmers on 300 acres of land on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment, near Stroud in Gloucestershire. We keep and breed a variety of rare livestock; Gloucester cattle, Gloucester Old Spot pigs, Jacob, Lleyn, Llanwenog and Cotswold sheep and a variety of chickens, ducks and geese. All our animals are outdoor-reared and the poultry are properly free-ranging around the fields and garden.
Jonathan has been making cheese for 26 years and has run a stall at the multi-award-winning Stroud Farmers Market since it began in 1999. He makes Double and Single Gloucester cheese- the single having a PDO on it (Protected Designation of Origin) so that it can only be made in Gloucestershire. There are seven Single Gloucester cheese makers but Jonathan's cheese (all of it) is also unique in that it is the only Gloucester cheese to be made entirely from Gloucester cow's milk.
The whey from the cheese making goes to feed the Old Spot pigs, as is traditional in the Severn Vale, and they adore it! From the end of the summer the pigs' diet is also supplemented with windfalls from our own trees and apple pulp from local apple juice and cider producers Day's Cottage. Nothing goes to waste. The cows graze a flower-rich pasture - part of the Stewardship Scheme - to conserve wild flower meadows and the wildlife that depends on it. To this end, we also fertilise the hay fields with our own manure and use no chemical fertilisers or pesticides. We make no silage and have a low input and output. The hay we make is used as winter-feed for the cows and sheep. The cows stay outdoors until the winter weather gets too harsh and then are brought into large sheds on straw bedding until spring.
Jonathan milks between 10-15 cows twice a day, 365 days a year and cheese is made twice a week in the winter and three times from spring when the grass is richer and the milk yields higher. All the milk, save a small amount for our own use, goes into the tank for cheese production. The cheese is unpasteurised and we use vegetarian rennet.
All our Gloucester cows have names and their own characters and, as we only have a small milking herd of around 20 cows and 80 in total, we know their personalities pretty well. They are all halter trained and the whole family is involved in training them and showing at local shows – Stroud, Berkeley and Malvern (The Three Counties Royal Show), where we have won many prizes for the cows and cheese. The cows are very docile and quiet, despite them having horns, and are always popular with the public. As they are so easy to manage and have horns they have also been used in filming such as Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy classics.
To supplement our income we had blankets, shawls and scarves made from the coloured fleeces of our sheep. The wool board paid pennies for coloured fleeces and we didn't want to leave them to rot. It was a costly project and not as low carbon as we hoped, as there are no longer any woollen mills or weaving sheds in Stroud - historically the centre of the wool trade in England for centuries - so we had to send the wool to Pembrokeshire to be carded and then to Halifax to be woven. We sell them at our stall and at seasonal fairs.
Photographs & Words by Jonathan & Annabelle Crump | @jonathancrump_cheese