HAVING just beaten thousands of entries to win a Super Gold in the World Cheese Awards, the locally produced Lyburn has earned the right to be a top cheeseboard contender this festive period.
The artisan producer was one of just 11 in the UK to scoop the accolade from organiser the Guild of Fine Foods for its Stoney Cross variety.
It was the latest in a long string of honours secured over the last few years by Mike Smales and his team at Lyburn dairy farm in Landford.
Lyburn’s Mike Smales
“Our cheeses are such good quality because we pay a lot of attention to the way they are made,” said Mike, who took over the farm from his father in 1970.
“We make them by hand as opposed to being mass-produced mechanically.
“My team looks after the ripening process and carefully controls the temperature and humidity level, checking every single hour.”
Mike’s 180-strong herd of Holstein Friesians produce around 1.3-million litres of milk a year, and 50% of that is turned into cheese.
He sells his cheese to Waitrose, the Fine Cheese Company, luxury cruise brand Cunard, and high-end restaurants locally and further afield, including The Jetty, Lime Wood and The Pig.
He also supplies most farm and village shops in the Forest.
“I’ve morphed from a muddy-boots farmer into a van-driving cheese seller,” said Mike. “Twenty years ago I would be banging on pub doors asking if they’d like to sell my cheese and getting told, ‘No. Sod off, farmer’.
“It’s taken us 10 years to get established and now I don’t need to do that. The mistake people make when starting up a business is thinking it’s going to be an instant success. It might take a really long time and it’s going to be a lot of hard work.”
Lyburn supplies most farm and village shops in the Forest
Mike continued: “People talk about the price because our product is a bit more expensive than supermarket cheese, but what I would say is, spend a bit more on quality and eat a bit less of it.
“I know that for…