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Campaign to Protect Rural England - Somerset

Wyke Farms

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 00:00

Anaerobic digester plant producing power from waste to make cheese at Wyke Farms Anaerobic digester plant producing power from waste to make cheese at Wyke Farms

 We enjoyed a fascinating visit to one of Somerset's oldest and well known cheese companies in March and learnt how they run their operations using green energy.

 We were greeted by Lucy Francis, Brand Manager, and welcomed into the warmth of the purpose built visitor centre for tea and biscuits.  Lucy explained the history of Wyke Farms and how the Clothier family have been making cheese for some 800 years.  Grandmother Ivy Clothier's ancient recipe for cheddar cheese is still used today and the original recipe is kept in a safe on the family farm.  The family farm is 1500 acres and has 1000 milking cows.  Milk is also brought in from 110 farms within a 65 mile radius to produce 18,000 tonnes of cheese each year.  The cows at Wyke Farms graze outside from March to October and those farms supplying milk which is farmed sustainably get paid a premium rate.  Cheese is exported to 160 countries worldwide.

After our talk, it was time to don our hi-viz vests and go and meet James Barwick, Sustainable Energy Manager, for a tour around the green energy plant.  The giant anaerobic digesters are fed with cow slurry, waste products from the dairy,  straw, apple pomice from local cider makers and bread waste from a factory in Bristol. They only use food waste and do not take in bio-energy crops.  James explained that the science of AD plants is similar to cheese making in that you use specific bio-cultures and have to have the right conditions to optimise their growth.  The plants produce enough energy for the dairy to operate and a surplus is sold to the grid.  The amount of energy produced altogether is enough for 6000 homes.  Wyke even use solar power to cool the milk before it entres the cheese making process.

James answered lots of detailed questions from our very knowledgeable CPRE members and then it was time to go back inside and try some samples of cheese.

Thanks very much indeed to Lucy and James for their time and for sharing their enthusiasm and great knowledge of all things green  - and for some lovely cheese too!









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