21 April 2021, 08:00 AM
New Market Dairy: the grass roots champion

This article originally appeared in Inspirational Cheese Retailers, available to download free here.

Founded by a cheesemaker – Martin Gott, producer of Lake District Cheese St JamesNew Market Dairy is about as close to the grass roots of the cheese industry as it’s possible to get.

The shop opened in New Market Square in October 2019 to local applause, and it’s no wonder; not only does the shop bring quality cheese to the customers of Altrincham (since day one the cheeses on offer were selected by the cheesemaker himself), but within months it provided its customers with a way to help support the British artisan cheese industry in the wake of Covid-19: by launching a dedicated cheese box and working harder than ever to connect consumers with the land at the heart of the cheese they’re purchasing.

Considering Martin’s proximity to the cause, it’s perhaps only natural that this should be on the business’s To Do list as soon as Covid’s impact on the cheese industry was made clear. He, together with partner Nicola Robinson, runs Holker Farm in Cumbria and produces both the iconic St James and Crookwheel cheeses – both popular with retailers and consumers across the UK – while maintaining an ethos of supporting fellow farmhouse cheesemakers and running their farm using regenerative agricultural methods.

“We are supporting farming systems that in turn encourage biodiversity and sustain rural communities,” says the team, “valuing and preserving a perishable resource and making bloody good cheese with it.” Tireless efforts The New Market Dairy team never falters in recognising their business’s responsibility as a valuable link in the cheese industry chain, as well as a tireless champion of the work dairy farmers and cheesemakers do.

While Holker Farm continued production of its cheeses throughout the pandemic, not all cheesemakers were able to do the same as a result of the pause of foodservice, and pressures brought about a long time before Covid-19 was on our radars – such as lowering milk prices and its inherent undervaluing – have dealt a dramatic blow too.

As a result of these challenges, New Market Dairy works enthusiastically to promote the value of Britain’s cheesemaking circle. “The farmhouse cheese community is incredibly diverse with hundreds of small producers dotted around the country all making cheese unique to their own farms, yet traditional cheese methods are overwhelmingly overlooked by industrial practices, whilst milk is undervalued by the mass consumer (supermarkets), you only have to see milk prices to appreciate that,” they write on a blog on their website.

Connecting food with place New Market Dairy’s efforts to support the industry have seen it travel the length and breadth of the UK, sourcing from other cheesemakers including Appleby’s Cheshire and Westcombe Dairy, in order to bring their goods back to their Manchester audience. Their website now boasts a slick e-commerce functionality, and deliveries are available around Greater Manchester. These services, along with the market stall, which is at the core of the business’s mission, were launched as part of the team’s plan to “bridge the gap between producer and consumer [which] connects food (rural) with place (urban)”.

With an authentic connection to the mission they serve, and a passionate team behind it, New Market Dairy is an invaluable asset to the farmhouse cheese industry it so proudly works within.

“Working at both ends of the supply chain gives us an interesting perspective, seeing both the production and consumption of our cheese firsthand. In the age of the globalised food chain, now more than ever, it’s important to reconnect with our local produce. In a sense, the market stall bridges the gap between producer and consumer; it connects food (rural) with place (urban). I know it seems trivial, but cities and urban populations are as dependent now than ever before on the farming systems that sustain them.”

more like this