It started in the late 80s, when Mark and his parents Guy and Audrey established a flock of 150 British Friesland sheep for milking. The idea was to sell the milk to a local cheesemaker. But with each sheep producing up to three litres of milk a day, they soon found themselves with a surplus. They first started selling bottled sheep’s milk to health food shops, then tried making sheep milk yogurt – and finally experimented with making their own cheeses. For Mark and Sarah, cheese soon became an obsession.
Their traditional sheep milk halloumi (still a favourite at Riverford today!) was originally supplied to the north London Cypriot community – and other varieties followed. They gradually developed a range of organic cow and goat milk cheeses, too, cheeses including hard, mature and semi-soft continental styles. All their cheeses are suitable for vegetarians.
Today, High Weald Dairy is the worthy winner of lots of awards, including multiple gold medals at the British Cheese Awards and the Artisan Cheese Awards, as well as being named Sussex Food Producer of the Year.
When they’re not making cheese and tending their happy herd of organic dairy cows, Mark and Sarah are often found walking their dogs in the West Sussex countryside. Fittingly, one of their dogs is named Pickle.