There’s a new treat in store for foodies and their festive cheeseboards this Christmas as full-bodied Cheddars from Golden Hooves, part of an eco-focused, UK farming co-operative, make their debut.
The sustainable shining stars, a global award-winning Vintage Cheddar whose crumbly texture bursts with rugged savoury and caramel notes and its rounded Mature sibling – more an everyday staple – are the first from the food brand.
Launched last year, it operates as a separate division of parent First Milk, a pioneering dairy collective of 700 family-run farms committed to regenerative methods tailored to each operation and supported by ongoing reviews and improvements to maintain progress.
Livestock integration, minimising soil disturbance, maintaining living roots and encouraging plant diversity are the core principles.
Golden Hooves’ name pays tribute to its treasure troves, the thousands of grazing cows and the action of their hooves working the land, so milk is supplied and carbon is removed from the atmosphere then sequestered into the earth.
The co-op’s members manage 85,000 hectares of land containing 250,000 trees and 5,000 kilometres of hedgerows.
Leona McDonald, a product development expert now running Golden Hooves, explains: “We’re the first large dairy brand to be shouting about the benefits of regenerative farming and bringing it to the consumer with everyday produce that is good for the planet and people.
“First Milk sells its milk and cheese for private label at the moment and it seemed a natural progression to move from business to business to direct to consumer and retail with a brand people can trust and shows dairy as a force for good. Ours is the only regenerative Cheddar in the UK.
“Over and above the milk premium for our farmers we want them to have a real sense of pride too in the products and ensure their future.
“The rise of the conscious consumer is a big driver and we can truly make a difference when you take into account the scale of the land our members manage and the opportunities this brings.
“The weight of our worms which our farming system supports is twice that of the weight of our cows and, thanks to our soil testing, we have one of the largest and most credible data sets on soil carbon in the UK.”
The brand began with on-farm milk vending machines, now extended to self-serve in stores with the latest in Nunney, the gloriously picture-postcard pretty Somerset village famed for its medieval castle.
Packed retail cheese followed with wedges of the Mature and then the Vintage Cheddar, have helped Golden Hooves expect a £250,000 turnover this year and to triple that come 2025.
Production is carried out by two creameries in Wales and Cumbria and after the cheeses have matured wholesale specialist Longman’s Cheese in Somerset handles the cutting and packing.
“We want to focus on the UK’s independent retail market and offer them something genuinely unique compared to supermarket retail,” says McDonald.
A Golden Hooves Red Leicester is due for release next spring with crackers planned and snacks and food-to-go further possibilities as the brand pursues expansion with more stockists, potentially export, and also grow its team of four.
The co-op now has a partnership with organic farming pioneer, Yeo Valley Production, that is creating a new regenerative milk pool in the South West and has also scooped the first and highly prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development.
Cheeseboards are definitely having more than a moment too as they become an occasion staple of many households with £80 the average spend over Christmas.
“We’re a cheeky brand with integrity, that’s our ‘hoof’ of proof,” declares McDonald. “Deliciously regenerative is our ‘stomp’ of approval.”
Vintage Cheddar from £4.45 and Mature £3.75
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