Situated just near Bridport at the top of a country track is Hollis Mead’s organic farm and at the end of May, I had the privilege of visiting it. If you have not already heard of them, Hollis Mead makes a range of delicious, organic dairy products including cream, yoghurt, butter, a brie style cheese called, ‘Benvill’ and wonderfully flavoursome full milk from their 180-head herd of 100% grass-fed cows. All are available via their Dairy Dens (milk vending machines) located across Dorset, online via their website and the Saturday farmers’ markets in London.
Although the yield from 100% grass-fed cows is much lower than those that are also fed on grains, there are so many benefits both for us and the animals. The milk contains much higher amounts of nutrients, including vitamin D, omega 3 and CLA, and when only fed on grass, the cows live up to three times longer than an industrial dairy cow!
The farm was nothing like one I had ever seen before, and I’ve seen a few! Rex took us on a wonderful tour starting off in the milking parlour. It was so spotlessly clean that it looked like no cow had ever ventured in there. In fact, every room was spotless. He showed us where the milk is pasteurised and the vending machine containers are sterilised, all in super shiny stainless steel machines.
Heading out into the fields everything was so lusciously green due to their farming ethos. The hedges are allowed to grow high and the fields are full of different varieties of grasses creating large biodiversity throughout the 1500-acre farm. During the winter the cows come into a spacious barn and are fed on silage made from homegrown grass. To help preserve skylarks (which have rapidly decreased in population, and continue to do so) and other wildlife, Hollis Mead only cuts grass for silage once a year, to ensure birds have somewhere to live and nest.
From the luscious long grassed fields we headed to the beautiful oak woodland. Walking through the gate we were welcomed by a completely unique sight. Splendid, slender oaks curving up towards the sun with a bed of ferns and bluebells (that had just flowered) lining a walkway running down the centre. The oaks, planted in clay-like soil, were originally used by charcoal burners who worked on the land. The woodland was utterly magical, it could be something from a movie!
And just before we left, we paid a visit to the spring-born calves who were soon to be heading out into the fields. They were so sweet and inquisitive, but I must say it’s hard to get a photo of them (they don’t stop moving!). What lucky carves to be looking forward to a life in the fields at Hollis Mead!
Thank you so much Rex for giving us such a wonderful tour, it was so fascinating.