COUNTRYMAN ARTICLE: MEET THE LADIES
DOWN ON THE FARM. OUR REGULAR COLUMN CELEBRATING THE DIVERSITY AND VIBRANCY OF UK FARMING THIS MONTH FEATURES JESS VAUGHAN, AN ORGANIC DAIRY FARMER IN GLOUCESTER.
Hardwicke Farm is a gorgeous, timeless place of traditionally rotated and farmed organic pasture intermingled with woodland, orchards and ancient hedgerows, and is home to our small herd of seventy dairy cows - or ‘the Ladies’ to their friends.
We like to think that our animals, wildlife and farming all complement one another in a harmonious way; and we will do anything to preserve it.
My grampy, John Vaughan, came here as a tenant farmer in 1955 with just three cows: Gypsy, Bluebird and Glow-worm. Recently it became clear that to survive in the dairy industry we had to do something radically different. We took a leap of faith in 2006, building a small dairy onsite and developing our own brand, Jess’s Ladies Organic Farm Milk, to tell the public about our most valuable asset: the story of our Ladies, our farm and our relationship with both. This has allowed us to produce unhomogenised organic dairy produce direct to shelf within hours of it leaving our Ladies, and to secure our farm and its future.
It has been hard work and a steep learning curve, being thrown into a retail environment which as farmers you are very sheltered from. But we’ve relished every moment. Selling direct is so rewarding, with customers commenting that our produce tastes “like it used to”. Our milk being so fresh is just something that we are used to as dairy farmers, but the general public is so often denied that privilege.
The main measure of our success shall not be our awards but the Ladies, living happy, healthy, long lives, cared for by us every day, on flourishing farmland - something which I and my dad Mike are very proud of.