Can you tell us a bit about your business?

We produce traditional cheeses and luxury ice cream made with organic milk from our own dairy herd, where we keep the calves with their mothers to suckle. Our farm, based in Dumfries & Galloway, is the first commercial dairy in the UK to be following the cow with calf method, demonstrating that cow with calf dairy farming is viable and sustainable at scale. Our ethical dairy model is based around treating the animals, the land, our environment and the people who work here with respect and kindness.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

We have been selling online direct to customers for a couple of years, but before lockdown that was only a small percentage of the sales – most of the cheese went to restaurants and speciality cheesemongers, and we had also started selling via Abel & Cole in February 2020.

When lockdown, hit our hospitality and wholesale sales collapsed, so we immediately launched a digital marketing campaign to increase our direct to consumer sales. The response was phenomenal, and we have been managing a low stock situation since early May as a result of the huge demand for home delivery, with our cheese stocks recovering only in the past few weeks.

One of the big challenges at the height of lockdown was balancing demand from our direct customers with demand from Able & Cole, who also saw demand soar – we didn’t want to let anyone down, but cheese takes a long time to mature (3-9 months for most of our cheeses) so we had to be very open with people about the stock challenges we were facing.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

One of the things we’ve done while we’ve been low in our own stock is to showcase other cheesemakers and other local producers, with bundles like ‘A Cheesy Night In’ collaborating with a local preserve producer, and Scottish Cheese Selections which showcased other Scottish cheesemakers.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

We are running two hands-on food tourism experiences during Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, and these events will run weekly in October too.  On Wednesdays, in ‘All About Ice Cream’, participants will experience every aspect of the ice cream journey including a tour of the farm to see where the cows are milked, tasting ice cream flavours and then creating their own flavour in an ice cream making workshop.  On Thursdays our ‘Cheese Making Workshop’ is a full-day event where people will learn the art of cheese making, working hands-on to make two different cheeses, a soft cheese and a pressed cheese to mature at home. The event also includes a cheese tasting session, a farm tour and lunch.