Hesper Farm: Not following the herd

When driving up to Hesper Farm there was no denying that this was well off the beaten track, surrounded by glorious field upon field in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. I was determined to find this faraway place, and it was a reassuring sign when I spotted the GB Moorhouse family plaque.

Much like any farm, the mud and odour was a sign of a well-loved and treasured farm life. It was then I spotted the distinctive Hesper Farm Skyr van – and then shortly afterwards I was greeted by Sam – the man behind the Hesper Farm Skyr yoghurt we love.

Within the first five minutes of conversation – I knew this was a man driven by passion and dedication. Not only to his family generations at the farm, but for his product – which he had produced from scratch.

It’s an incredible story to tell, Sam travelled to Iceland, and spotted a niche in the market – Skyr yoghurt, hugely popular and a favourite in Iceland. Being naturally fat free and high in nutritional value along with its bold and modern clean cut style it certainly has an appeal.

The idea that this is not just solely yoghurt further adds to the sell, it’s an ingredient – for chefs, it’s a pretty remarkable product. As I became more familiar with the product and its current flavour variations: original, blueberry, strawberry and vanilla, we talked through the process of how Skyr was made and I saw behind the scenes where it was produced in the new purpose-built dairy.

My next burning question was the story behind the distinctive packaging – one bold image of a cow. This cow was in fact, Baby – a real life inspiration behind the whole tale of Hesper Farm. Sam bought her at auction almost 10 years earlier – I wonder if he knew back then that this was just the start of something special.

When I visited the Holstein Friesians – The Airburn Herd, who were all safely kept indoors for winter. I felt a warm sense of pride and knew that these cows were the beauty behind the product. Supplying milk then pasteurised and made into Skyr yoghurt.

Walking back after a short walk, chatting to Sam about his time in Iceland I felt a genuine sense of inspiration. This guy had not only sold a fine product in Hesper Farm Skyr yoghurt, but he had sold a dream.

If one young person of today, can visit a country and see and taste a difference in the market, and then research, invest time and learn the process step by step. And ultimately bring us a product that is completely unique and great, then we should encourage more great food stories just like these.

I concluded by asking him ‘why Skyr?’ and he replied: In this industry (farming) we have seen a rapid decline in profits (which echoed all too familiar stories we hear all too regularly from the industry). If we don’t act now, and look for something new, then we are pretty much admitting defeat.

At Wellocks, we always choose our suppliers with great care and attention. James Wellock takes pride in visiting and selecting not only the best in fresh produce, but crucially great stories and even greater people – and I think we can all wholeheartedly appreciate the Hesper Farm story now.

Read part 2 Tasting Skyr, Icelandic style.