A South Craven couple have taken over a top goats cheese brand and have plans to expand.
Sharron and Ed Parker are operating the business from their Bradley farm.
They bought the Yellison Farm Goats Cheese outfit – established in 2003 – when it was put on the market by former owner Steve Akrigg, due to his failing health. Sadly, he died on Christmas Day last year.
Mr Akrigg’s 24-year-old son, Jonathan, and his partner, Lucy Pollard, are helping the Parkers familiarise themselves with all aspects of the operation.
The milking parlour, dairy and cheese production unit have been relocated from the former base at Carleton to Sire Bank Farm, where the Parkers are currently milking 72 predominantly Saanen and Anglo Nubian goats.
“We are up and running, and while it’s early days and there’s still plenty of work to do, we have retained all existing customers and are meeting current order requirements,” said Mrs Parker, a fully qualified mechanical engineer, who formerly managed the tool rooms at Kingfisher (Lubrication) in Leeds.
Steve Akrigg had built-up a hugely successful, award-winning business, with a national customer base and a top reputation.
“Steve invested so much of his time in both establishing and developing the business,” added Mrs Parker.
“It was a true passion in his life – a real labour of love – and one I am determined to continue and further develop in his memory. I already share much of his passion and enthusiasm.”
The business is continuing to produce two types of goats cheese – a light and creamy log in two sizes and potted Crowdie, a soft, spreadable cheese made to a Scottish recipe.
Production has increased, with milk output currently about 600 litres a week and two weekly cheese runs producing some 180kg of product.
And there are plans to further develop and diversify.
“We are looking to grow the herd naturally, and eventually hope to be milking 120-plus goats, producing our own haylage on the farm to feed them,” said Mrs Parker.
“This will allow us to increase both production and capacity. We will also seek to develop and expand our cheese types and ranges, with different flavour variations of existing soft log products, together with the introduction of an own-brand hard cheese similar to a Stilton.”
She and Ed, who also runs his own structural engineering business, have three children – Georgia, 13, a pupil at Skipton Girls’ High School; Joseph, 11, who attends South Craven School in Cross Hills, and five-year-old Archie, who is at Bradley Primary School.
The family’s farm – where Ed’s parents Bill, now 81, and Jennifer Parker help out – specialises in Hereford-cross cattle, with a 30-strong herd of cows, Texel-cross-Mule sheep and Warren hybrid hens, with the eggs sold in Bradley Village Shop.
Sandra Waite, who runs the shop, is already selling Yellison’s cheese, and is holding an open day with tastings on Saturday.