North Suffolk dairy farmers ‘so proud’ as cheese factory scoops national accolade

The Fen Farm Dairy team picking up their award at BizX

Amber Miller, Dulcie Crickmore, Jonathan Crickmore, Stevan Peckett, Lewis Rushmere and Stephen Unwin of Fen Farm Dairy - Credit: Fen Farm Dairy

Dairy farmers who have also become premium Suffolk cheesemakers are celebrating after scooping a national business award.

Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore of Fen Farm Dairy expressed delight after their north Suffolk business was crowned Manufacturer of the Year at the BizX Forum and Awards in Farnborough.

They joined a host of diverse businesses from across the country for the two-day event, which included business leaders and motivational speakers and culminated in an awards ceremony.

These are open to around 5,000 companies which have been supported by coaches from Action Coach to help business grow.

Fen Farm Dairy at Bungay has been coached for the past eight years by Stephen Unwin, who is part-owner of Cawston Press and of the family behind Copella Juices near Boxford. 

“We entered into the best manufacturer as we felt we were an unusual business in the fact we oversee the whole process from farming through to cheese production and onto to sales and this we thought made us a bit more than just a company who made one part of a larger project. Also with the fact that we have been growing year on year around 30 to 40%,” said Jonny.

“The judges loved the fact that we undertook a challenging product to make - French brie – in a country that wasn’t France and have been able to not only grow but have consistently made a great product while increasing the size of production.”

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The couple took members of the management team at the farm to the awards and enjoyed “an amazing night”, said the third-generation dairy farmer. The menu for the 1,000 or so guests featured Fen Farm cheese.

They were “so proud of our amazing team”, said the Crickmores.

“This is testament to the strength of every person here at Fen Farm Dairy and the incredible quality they bring to work with them every day. We’ve had some adventures together and there are many more to come,” they added.

The dairy farmers diversified into making their highly-successful Baron Bigod cheese, butter and raw milk products when milk prices hit such a low that dairying was becoming less and less viable. That was back around 2013 but since then the business has gone from strength to strength. Their Montbeliarde and Friesian cows graze on the marshlands of the Waveney River Valley.

The business was also shortlisted in the Greenest Company, Most Innovative Company and Best Marketing categories at the awards event.