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James & Jenny,
Wrixhill Farm

Wrixhill Farm near Tavistock is Sharpham’s main supplier of lovely, rich goats’ milk. A family farm situated in the Tamar Valley on the border between Devon and Cornwall, Wrixhill is home to Jennifer Venning and James Holland, and their young children Isabella and William.

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Why goats’ milk? After milking cows for years, James and Jenny were looking for a way to diversify. The couple had bought a few goats in 2015 after discovering that goats’ milk was a great alternative to cows’ milk for their lactose intolerant baby daughter and they began to wonder about developing a goat dairy herd alongside, and perhaps eventually to replace, their cow herd.

In 2016 they took the plunge and bought a few hundred goats - a lovely mix of Saanens, Anglo Nubians, British Alpines and British Toggenburgs - and with some rapid learning, they started milking twice a day. Originally their milk was sold to a multinational, but when that contract ended unexpectedly, they were thrown into a quandary. With no customers was there a future in goats?

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Sharpham Cheese was the first new customer to come on board thanks to a conversation between James and Greg about the perilous situation they had been put in by their previous supplier. Off the back of this new Sharpham business, James and Jenny were able to secure relationships with more artisan cheese makers and things began to look up.

Then COVID 19 struck. The artisan cheese market went into crisis and the shock waves rippled outward. Sharpham continued to make for a fortnight after lockdown hit to try to ease the blow, but James and Jenny pretty soon had 5,000 litres of goats’ milk a week with nowhere for it to go. They left kids on nannies, bought Angus calves and fed them goats’ milk and decided that it was probably a good time to use some of their milk to make cheese and cream of their own.

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James’ father Richard, who lives on the neighbouring farm, had experimented with making halloumi and clotted cream from their rich goats’ milk already, but this small sideline quickly came into its own during lockdown. A hasty website and social media soon brought in orders and fantastic feedback from customers across the country. Their silky, pure white clotted cream is delicious and is enjoyed particularly by people who can’t tolerate cows’ milk. Wrixhill halloumi has also been going down a storm, especially as part of the Sharpham Sizzler BBQ box.

With things slowly returning to normal after lockdown, their milk sales to artisan cheesemakers have resumed. Sharpham is back to full production and Wrixhill is back to being our biggest supplier. We’re very pleased that the gorgeous goats of Wrixhill will continue to provide milk for our ever popular Ticklemore and Cremet for a long time to come.

One positive side effect… Jenny and James have decided to continue to make Wrixhill’s own clotted cream and halloumi, which you can order from their website: www.wrixhilldairy.co.uk