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East Anglia Future 50

Dairy farmers are 'cream of the cream' after scooping national Amazon rural accolade

PUBLISHED: 10:58 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:50 01 March 2019

Jonathan Crickmore with his cows  Picture: SU ANDERSON

Jonathan Crickmore with his cows Picture: SU ANDERSON

A Suffolk farming family has scooped a top national accolade at a rural awards event.

Dairy cattle at Fen Farm Dairy of Bungay  Picture: KAT MAGER PHOTOGRAPHYDairy cattle at Fen Farm Dairy of Bungay Picture: KAT MAGER PHOTOGRAPHY

The Crickmores’ cheese and butter-making dairy farm, Fen Farm Dairy at Bungay, was crowned Best Rural Manufacturing Business at the Rural Business Awards, which was backed by internet giant Amazon.

Food business specialist Appetite Me, from Bury St Edmunds, was runner-up in the Best Rural Professional Services Business category at the ceremony, which was held at Chateau Impney in Worcestershire on February 28.

MORE – Farmers with consumer focus ‘best placed to thrive’, say land agents

Fen Farm Dairy managing director Graham Crickmore said they were “delighted” at the achievement.

“As the only raw milk brie-style cheese producer in the UK, we are immensely proud of our products, and are so glad that the judges recognised our dedication, innovation, and commitment to the environment through this award. The Rural Business Awards are an important celebration of the rural sector, and we have truly enjoyed being a part of them.”

Jonny Crickmore at his vending machines  
Picture: NICK BUTCHERJonny Crickmore at his vending machines Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Fen Farm Dairy, a third generation dairy farm enterprise, diversified several years ago into making cheese and butter from raw milk, as well as selling it at the farm gate.

Its own products, Baron Bigod cheese and Bungay Raw Butter, have found their way into many prestigious places over the past few years, including the Royal breakfast of Prince Harry on his wedding day to Meghan Markle, the dinner table of the Beckhams, Royal Ascot, Wimbledon, Silverstone, The Autumn Rugby Internationals and the BA First Class menu. It also works closely with Neal’s Yard Dairy in London, which sells its cheese rather than importing French Brie.

The Crickmores are UK representatives for DF Italia milk vending machines – a system which enables raw milk to be sold to customers at the farm gate.

The business has installed a 50kw solar panel system, enabling the whole farm to be powered by solar energy on sunny days.

Dairy cows at Fen Farm Dairy of Bungay  Picture: KAT MAGER PHOTOGRAPHYDairy cows at Fen Farm Dairy of Bungay Picture: KAT MAGER PHOTOGRAPHY

It is currently working alongside the government’s Food Standards Agency and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) to set up a Raw Milk Producers Group.

Appetite Me specialises in the rural set up of farm shops and restaurants, from in-depth feasibility studies, grant applications, and designing farm shops and restaurants, for both front and back of house. It sources the staff, food and drink ranging, merchandising, buying, branding and websites. Once the operation is launched, it usually manage the business on behalf of the client.

The firm has a buying team dedicated to artisan food and drink, working with more than 600 small producers in more than 35 English counties, and purchasing more than £3m worth of artisan products for clients’ farm shops and restaurants.

Managing director Rob Tate said they were “delighted” at the accolade.

Best Rural Manufacturing Business Winner Fen Farm Dairy Limited's Frances and Graham Crickmore  Picture: DARE & HIER MEDIABest Rural Manufacturing Business Winner Fen Farm Dairy Limited's Frances and Graham Crickmore Picture: DARE & HIER MEDIA

“We are proud of the work we do, and are thrilled to receive this recognition from the Rural Business Awards. Awards programmes like this are crucial in highlighting the work being done by rural enterprises.”

Now in its fourth year, the Rural Business Awards showcases the success of rural businesses. It was set up by Leicestershire businesswomen Jemma Clifford and Anna Price.

“The Rural Business Awards shines a much-deserved spotlight on the innovators, creators and inventors in rural communities across the UK and it’s great to celebrate their successes at this year’s national final,” said Amazon UK country manager Doug Gurr.

“I’d like to congratulate Fen Farm Dairy Ltd, Appetite Me and all the other winners and finalists at this year’s event and wish them continued success for the future.”

Best Rural Professional Services Business runner-up Appetite Me's Sally Wooldridge, Shelly Tate, Robert Tate, Mark Ellis, Phoebe Howard, Becka Wright and Nikki Morley  Picture: DARE & HIERBest Rural Professional Services Business runner-up Appetite Me's Sally Wooldridge, Shelly Tate, Robert Tate, Mark Ellis, Phoebe Howard, Becka Wright and Nikki Morley Picture: DARE & HIER

Celebrate Suffolk and north Essex businesses with us. Enter the Suffolk Business Awards here

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